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Federally funded abortions are in our future
Now, the president's executive order purports to address this gap by extending the Hyde Amendment to these dollars as well. The problem is that, regardless of Obama's stated intentions, he can't actually do this without an act of Congress.
As Dorinda Bordlee, an attorney with the Bioethics Defense Fund, wrote: "If a president could do that, there would be no need to have a majority of Congress pass the Hyde Amendment each and every year to prevent abortion funding using Medicaid dollars for low-income government health care. Instead, we could have simply prevailed on each president to issue an executive order saying agencies can't use Medicaid money for abortion. Congress controls the purse strings, not the president. That's Civics 101."
It is telling that the nation's largest abortion provider -- Planned Parenthood -- is claiming "victory" because "we were able to keep the Stupak abortion ban out of the final legislation and President Obama did not include the Stupak language in his executive order."
Several supporters of the bill have argued that this debate is otherwise irrelevant because abortions aren't performed at CHCs. While currently true, this doesn't mean that CHCs wouldn't like to offer abortion among their reproductive services.
Under the new law, they can. There's nothing to stop them.
Here's why. By statute, CHCs are required to provide all "required primary health care services," defined to include "health services related to . . . obstetrics or gynecology that are furnished by physicians."
Federal courts long have held that when a statute requires provision of health services under such broad categories, then the statute must be construed to include abortion unless it explicitly excludes it. Voilà.
One may believe that poor women should have affordable access to abortion. This is a reasonable position and it is likely to be the result of this bill. But it is not what Americans have been led to believe is true, nor is it what most want. A January Quinnipiac University poll found that 67 percent of Americans oppose public funding for abortion, down from 72 percent in December.
Prediction: Abortions will be performed at community health centers. You can bet your foreclosed mortgage on that. There was always a will by this administration, and now there's a way.
In a recent column I wrote that Margaret Chase Smith was the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate. She was the first elected to both houses. The first woman elected to the Senate was Hattie Caraway of Arkansas.
For more on the debate over abortion and health care, read Rep. Bart Stupak on "Why I voted for health-care reform."