The Public Policy

Taxpayers and Abortions

Don't want to pay for them? Too bad -- you already do.

By 4.14.10

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It's been nearly a month since Obamacare became law, and Americans of all political stripes are scrambling to understand its life-changing ramifications. For anti-abortion advocates, the new law, by subsidizing abortion with taxpayer dollars, represents the largest expansion of abortion since the Supreme Court handed down its infamous Roe v. Wade decision nearly 40 years ago.

But while Obamacare marks a unique development in abortion funding, it is hardly the first time Americans have been forced to underwrite the procedure. In fact, if you pay taxes or have a certain type of health insurance, you are already paying for other people's abortions. 

Let me first dispel the myth that the new law does not cover abortion. Far from the president's promise to "maintain the status quo" on abortion, Obamacare allows direct federal funding of abortions in community health centers. It also authorizes taxpayer subsidies for health plans that cover abortions and forces families in many health plans to pay a separate fee specifically for other people's abortions.

Concerns over these facts among some Democrats prompted President Obama to issue an Executive Order that purportedly bars abortion coverage. But executive orders don't trump statutory law. Which is why abortion rights groups are celebrating the new law as a victory.

And it's why pro-lifers are crying foul. They correctly reference the roughly two-thirds of Americans (according to numerous polls) who oppose taxpayer funding of abortions. Trouble is, despite their aversion, most Americans already fund abortion in various ways. 

The Hyde Amendment bans use of taxpayer funds for abortions under Medicaid. But Hyde includes exceptions for abortions in the case of rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother.

Plus, Hyde covers Medicaid regulations only at the federal level. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia fund abortions for low-income women, while 32 states pay for abortions in the cases of life, incest and rape, as required by federal Medicaid law. Several states even use taxpayer dollars to abort babies at risk of being born with "severe" disabilities.

The Mexico City Policy required non-governmental organizations to agree not to perform or promote abortions in other nations as a condition of getting federal funds. But President Obama revoked that law on his first day in office. Now hundreds of millions of dollars annually are being diverted to groups that push abortion on poor women abroad.

In March 2009, President Obama announced $50 million in taxpayer funds for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), a UN agency that has been criticized for promoting abortion and for working closely with Chinese population control officials, who force abortion and sterilization on their citizens.

Also last March, Obama overturned by executive order President Bush's limits on taxpayer funding of human embryonic stem cell (HESC) research, which destroys nascent human life. In December, the National Institutes of Health approved funding of 27 HESC lines from Harvard University used in diabetes-related pancreatic cell experiments.

But that's not all. Planned Parenthood, which performs roughly 250,000 abortions a year, receives $300 million annually in taxpayer money.

Recent developments have only re-affirmed the Democratic Party's commitment to forcing taxpayers to pay for abortions. The 2010 Omnibus Appropriations bill includes a provision permitting the D.C. government to use local tax revenues to provide abortions, a move that reversed a long-standing prohibition.

And in February the Obama administration began requiring all U.S. military health facilities to stock the morning after pill (Plan B), which can cause an early abortion by preventing the embryo from implanting in the uterus.

Taxpayers underwrite abortion through the tax break provided to employers that sponsor insurance plans. But you may be surprised to know that nearly half of employer-sponsored health plans have policies that cover abortion, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Obamacare's abortion mandate is an abomination on many levels, not least because it further exposes the hollowness of the "pro-choice" position. But don't kid yourself: If you pay taxes (and in many cases if you have employer-sponsored health coverage), your hard-earned money is already contributing to the destruction of innocent human life. 

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About the Author

Daniel Allott is a writer in Washington, D.C.