If you want a preview of Democrats’ agenda should they gain more political power this fall, look no further than coronavirus legislation that Nancy Pelosi released last month. That bill includes an array of liberal spending provisions out of sync with the American people’s priorities — including taxpayer funding of plans that cover abortion.
One costly provision in Democrats’ 1,404-page monstrosity would significantly expand the Obamacare insurance subsidy system. These provisions, which Pelosi wants to enact under the guise of the coronavirus emergency, would raise federal spending on these insurance subsidies in perpetuity — without attempting to pay for this new spending.
This expanded subsidy would quietly allocate additional federal dollars subsidizing insurance plans that cover abortion. Already, Obamacare contains no meaningful restrictions on taxpayer funding of abortion coverage. Expanding the law’s subsidy without enacting pro-life protections would mean additional taxpayer money flowing to plans that cover abortion.
Not too many years ago, pro-life Democrats supported restrictions on taxpayer funding of abortion via the Hyde Amendment. Named for pro-life Illinois congressman and enacted every year since 1976, the provision prohibits the use of taxpayer dollars to fund abortion, except in the cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.
As recently as November 2009, 64 pro-life Democrats joined with Republicans in the House to retain these pro-life protections, which ensured that no federal funds could flow to plans that cover abortion. But President Obama, Senate Democrats, and Pelosi combined to thwart this effort. By the time the president signed the Affordable Care Act into law, Democrats had replaced the pro-life protections with a sham accounting gimmick that allows federal dollars to subsidize plans that cover abortion.
But the Obama administration failed to enforce even this weak pro-life provision. The Government Accountability Office in 2014 concluded that insurers had failed to comply with provisions required in Obamacare to make their policies regarding abortion coverage transparent to consumers.
That Pelosi included a major expansion of the Obamacare program in her “stimulus” proposal without any Democrats raising pro-life concerns speaks to how the party has become completely co-opted in the ensuing decade by Planned Parenthood and other “pro-choice” special interest groups. Last summer, the pro-abortion left forced former vice president and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to switch his position on taxpayer funding of the procedure.
After first reiterating his support for the Hyde Amendment’s pro-life protections, Biden flip-flopped one day later under pressure from his party’s activist flank. His campaign’s platform now speaks of “protect[ing] the constitutional right to abortion” and “repealing the Hyde Amendment.” The end result of this proposed Biden-Pelosi agenda: Taxpayer-funded abortion on demand.
For now, at least, President Trump and the Republican Senate majority succeeded in stopping the radical agenda proposed by Nancy Pelosi in her “stimulus” bill. But with a different election outcome in November, the American people will likely find themselves having lost a hard-won compromise to the extreme wing of the Democratic Party.
The issue of taxpayer funding of abortion should not raise much controversy. For decades, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program has contained strong pro-life protections, which prohibit taxpayer funding of any federal employee plan that covers abortion.
Instead of Pelosi’s plan for new taxpayer funding of abortion coverage, Congress should work to extend those same pro-life protections to the Obamacare exchanges. These protections would save scarce taxpayer dollars, while preserving and enhancing a culture of life across the United States.