Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Back to the Hill: Abortion Fight in Health Care Resumes

Letter from AUL:
Dear friend,
President Obama is turning up the heat on Congress this week with an address to a joint session tonight. He’ll urge the lawmakers to move forward quickly on health care reform which, as currently proposed, threatens the unborn, the ill, and the elderly. It will be the first time that a President has addressed a joint session of Congress that wasn’t a State of the Union, or a traditional first address by a new President, since President George W. Bush spoke on the war on terrorism following the 9/11 attacks.
As we have since the White House’s health care reform efforts began, Americans United for Life Action is responding vigorously to provide the evidence about the anti-life components of the current health care reform proposals.
The AUL Action team is grateful for your support in this ongoing effort to protect life through the democratic legislative process. I invite you to check out our legal team’s “Back to the Hill” guide on our special health care reform Web site to learn what to expect next as Congress considers the health care reform proposals.

There are a lot of myths spreading about health care -- even in the halls of Congress. Just the other day, Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued her “Daily Mythbuster” which ironically spreads the myth that the government will not pay for or subsidize abortion coverage under pending health care legislation. Today, AULA sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi responding to her incorrect claims. Then, on Thursday, we will brief members of Congress and legislative staffers about the elements of the health care proposals that would mandate funding and coverage for abortion.
The following week brings another important meeting: Earlier this summer we sent a letter to the President relaying your concerns about health care reform and requesting a meeting to discuss abortion funding in his plan. The White House has responded to our request, and we will be meeting with two of President Obama’s top domestic policy aides, Melody Barnes and Tina Tchen, on September 17.

At that meeting, I will give the White House our Keep Abortion Out of Health Care petition. If you haven’t already signed it, please visit and add your name to the thousands who have already signed. And remember to send the message to members of Congress too! Our AUL Action site has a form that enables you to contact your legislators quickly and easily.

Thank you for all your support as we work to protect and defend life!

For Life,
Charmaine Yoest, Ph.D.President & CEO

How the Hyde Amendment is Under Attack and Why You Should Care
One of our greatest concerns about the current health care reform proposals is that they would circumvent the Hyde Amendment, which thanks in part to legal efforts by AUL has prevented abortions from being funded through Medicaid.
In the years leading up to Roe v. Wade, Medicaid began paying for abortions as many as 300,000 per year by 1976. In September of that year, Congress passed the Hyde Amendment, which restricted the use of taxpayer dollars for elective abortions. Not surprisingly, the Hyde Amendment was swiftly challenged in court. A four-year court battle over the Amendment’s constitutionality culminated in Harris v. McRae, where AUL’s Vice Chairman, Victor Rosenblum, successfully defended its constitutionality before the United States Supreme Court.

Congress continues to approve the Hyde Amendment each year as a “rider” on the annual appropriations bill for the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”). This amendment has prevented the use of taxpayer dollars for hundreds of thousands of abortions.

Nevertheless, the Hyde Amendment -- which is not a statute but requires Congressional approval every year -- remains vulnerable to attack. Pro-abortion lawmakers would love nothing more than to exclude the amendment from the next appropriations cycle, thereby allowing courts to mandate taxpayer funded abortion under Medicaid.

What’s more, pro-abortion lawmakers are finding backdoor ways to use taxpayer dollars for abortion. A prime example can be found in the health care bills currently before Congress: while the Hyde Amendment applies to programs under HHS appropriations, the health care bills will bypass the annual HHS appropriations process to fund new health care spending and entitlements. Because history has shown that where abortion is not explicitly excluded, courts will interpret legislative language to include it, health care reform must explicitly exclude mandates of any kind for abortion and explicitly state that federal funds shall not pay for abortion or for plans that cover abortion.

AUL led the way in the 1970s to stop federal tax dollars from paying for most abortions. Nearly four decades later, the battle rages on. AUL Action needs your help. Ask your elected representatives to demand the explicit exclusion of abortion coverage and funding in the health care bills before Congress. For more in-depth analysis of the Hyde Amendment and the abortion mandates in the health care reform bills, see our legal team’s report on “The Vulnerable Hyde Amendment” at

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