Catholic Bishops to Obama: Obey the law, and keep your promise, not to fund abortion for Congress


Friday, September 6, 2013

Thu Sep 05, 2013 14:09 EST

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 5, 2013 ( – In response to the news that taxpayers will foot at least part of the bill for lawmakers’ and Congressional staffers’ healthcare premiums under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – better known as ObamaCare – attorneys for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have issued a letter reminding the Obama administration that federal law prohibits tax money being spent on plans that cover abortion, and that the president himself promised not to change that.

Current federal law governing federal employees’ health plans states, “No funds...shall be available to pay for an abortion, or the administrative expenses in connection with any health plan…which provides any benefits or coverage for abortions.” The law includes exceptions in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.

But beginning next year, legislators and their staffers will be able to choose their own insurance plans from the new state healthcare exchanges and have their expenses partially reimbursed by the federal government.

Some of the available plans will include abortion coverage.

The USCCB’s attorneys argued in their letter that current federal laws barring the use of taxpayer funds for abortion coverage still apply, regardless of where or by whom a plan is purchased.

“Contributions by the federal government to health plans that cover elective abortions,” they add, would also “run afoul of the administration’s own assurances, both before and after ACA’s enactment, that ACA would not be construed to authorize such contributions.”

Prior to ObamaCare’s passage, President Obama told ABC News’ Jake Tapper that ObamaCare “is a health care bill, not an abortion bill…we're not looking to change what is the principle that has been in place for a very long time, which is federal dollars are not used to subsidize abortions.”

“I want to make sure that the provision that emerges meets that test — that we are not in some way sneaking in funding for abortions,” he said.

“The president has repeatedly assured Congress and the American people that current restrictions on abortion funding would not be reversed, or weakened in their application, by ACA,” the USCCB’s attorneys wrote. “Such assurances played a major role in securing final passage of the bill, and were formalized in an executive order issued by the president.”

But despite previous assurances, since ObamaCare was passed, the administration has been evasive about whether congressional employees who choose to purchase plans that include abortion coverage will be eligible for reimbursement under ObamaCare.

A rules Q&A released by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) said simply that “individuals who enroll in exchange plans will be subject to the same rules established for [private citizens] on the exchange.”

The new rules do not mention any restrictions on abortion coverage.