Fortunately, led by the pro-life House of Representatives, Congress appears set to start ending these abuses. The bill to fund the government for the coming year — H.R. 83, the “Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act” —contains several pro-life provisions. (It is called, in Washington speak, the “CROmnibus,” since it contains a continuing resolution (or CR) for Homeland Security appropriations only through February 27, while funding the rest of the government until next September by an Omnibus of full legislative text for the remaining appropriations bills.)
The CROmnibus addresses both of the backdoor efforts mentioned above to force us all to pay for crimes committed by others.
First, the CROmnibus notes the complaints that have been made by the Catholic Church against California’s abortion mandate and directs the Secretary of HHS to take action:
Healthcare Provider Complaints. Legislation appropriating funding for the Department of Health and Human Services has carried a general provision relating to health care providers since fiscal year 2005 (Division H, Section 507(d) of Public Law 113-76). Complaints regarding reported violations of these provisions have been filed with the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services. The Secretary is directed to respond to these complaints expeditiously in accordance with final rule 45 CFR Part 88 published in Federal Register Vol. 76 No. 36.
While HHS could still stonewall, this congressional directive should help move things forward, at the same time that it warns other states that may be considering similar abortion mandates that Congress intends to enforce the Weldon amendment.
Meanwhile, pro-life leaders are continuing to press for the speedy passage of the Abortion NonDiscrimination Act (ANDA), which would make the Weldon Amendment permanent. ANDA would also give Catholics and other pro-life Christians legal protection if agencies, states or localities tried to force them into paying for, participating in, or performing an abortion. After the new congress is sworn in January, ANDA should be swiftly passed by both Houses, and the battle will shift to the White House.
Second, the CROmnibus also includes an “explanatory statement” calling for greater transparency in health plans:
Transparency in Health Plans. The agreement directs the Secretary to provide additional clarification to qualified health plans, based upon relevant and related GAO findings, to ensure greater consistency and full transparency of coverage options included in health insurance plans prior to plan purchase in the marketplace enrollment process. The agreement requests a timeline for such clarifying guidance to be submitted to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations within 30 days after enactment of this act.
This should help ensure that health plan consumers know what they are buying — and to avoid inadvertently funding abortions. A complete resolution of the problem — in the form of a law with teeth — will have to wait until the new Congress is sworn in.
Even then, it will take vigilance on the part of Congress to ensure that such pro-life laws are not simply ignored. This administration seems convinced that it knows better than we, the people, how we should live — and when we should die.
Steven W. Mosheris the President of the Population Research Institute and the author of Population Control: Real Costs, Illusory Benefits.