BDF Blog: Healthcare in the Service of Life

grandparents-sm Healthcare is a key life issue, and BDF lawyers are reading the bills and informing citizens of their content.  This blog is for the purpose of public education, and not to urge the passage or defeat of any particular legislation. We encourage your comments!

The BDF main website has a detailed overview of ABORTION and END OF LIFE issues that enables you to READ THE BILLS FOR YOURSELF.

November 11, 2009 at 10:29 am

Florida Judge rules in favor of Majority of States against Obamacare

The ruling by Florida federal Judge Vinson is the fourth in ongoing litigation challenging Obamacare.   On January 31, 2011, Judge Vinson concluded:

“For the reasons stated, I must reluctantly conclude that Congress exceeded
the bounds of its authority in passing the Act with the individual mandate. That is
not to say, of course, that Congress is without power to address the problems and
inequities in our health care system. The health care market is more than one sixth
of the national economy, and without doubt Congress has the power to reform and
regulate this market. That has not been disputed in this case. The principal dispute
has been about how Congress chose to exercise that power here.
Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the
entire Act must be declared void.”

 The results of ongoing litigation are now split, with the Obama Department of Justice having been handed two wins and two losses.   The Florida decision by Judge Vinson is of critical importance because it addresses a legal challenge jointly filed by a majority of the states, as well as two individuals and the National Federation of Independent Businesses. 

Selected excerpts from Judge Vinson’s opinion and the full opinion of January 31, 2011 can be viewed here: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2011/01/obamacare-unconstitutional-federal-judge-roger-vinson-florida-1.html

 See also:  5 Ways Obamacare Funds Abortion

January 31, 2011 at 12:28 pm Leave a comment

VA COURT: Healthcare Mandate is Unconstitutional

BREAKING:   Monday, December 13, 2010:  A federal judge in Virginia struck down the provision of the Obama administration’s health reform law that mandates the individual purchase of health insurance.  In a 42-page opinion, District Judge Henry Hudson ruled that the means chosen by Congress “lacks logical limitation” and if upheld would enable Congress to mandate private purchases in any arena, including “transportation, housing or nutritional decisions.”  As explained by the court:

“In her argument, the Secretary urges an expansive interpreation of the concept of [economic] activity.  She posits that every individual in the United States will require health care at some point in their lifetime, if not today, perhaps next week or even next year.  Her theory further postulates that because near universal participation is critical to the underwriting process, the collective effect of refusal to purchase health insurance affects the national market.  Therefore, she argues, requiring advance purchase of insurance based upon a a future contingency is an activity that will inevitably affect interstate commerce.  Of course, the same reasoning could apply to transportation, housing, or nutritional decisions.  This broad definition of the economic activity subject to congressional regulation lacks logical limitation and is unsupported by Commerce Clause jurisprudence.”

 

This case, brought by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, is separate from the high-profile challenge brought by 20 states that is now pending ruling in a Florida federal court.  District court judges in two separate challenges have upheld the individual mandate, making an ultimate Supreme Court resolution more likely especially if there is a split in the upcoming decisions by the federal courts of appeals.

Related Resources:

  1. Politico reports on the Virginia ruling.
  2. K. Parker, “Federally Funded Abortions are in our Future,” Washington Post (Mar. 28, 2010).
  3. J. McCormack, “Stupak Deal Brokered by Former Planned Parenthood Lobbyist,” Weekly Standard (Mar. 24, 2010).
  4. BDF: Your State Can Enact Obamacare Abortion Opt-Out Legislation

December 13, 2010 at 1:20 pm Leave a comment

Your State can enact “Obamacare Abortion-Insurance Opt-Out” Law

STATE LEGISLATORS:  Bioethics Defense Fund lawyers are available to provide pro bono model legislation and consultation to state legislators who wish to enact an Obamacare Opt-Out bill that recognizes abortion shouldn’t be subsidized with our tax-dollars — IF Obamacare survives court challenges that BDF lawyers are consulting in. Read on. . .

Obamacare Abortion Coverage Opt-Out Act

After providing legal assistance to Arizona, BDF drafted and provided legal testimony on a new law that makes Louisiana the fourth state to opt-out of the tax-subsidized abortion coverage.

BDF model legislation recognizes that Obamacare may be struck down in court.  BDF’s model therefore includes this language:

Section 2. Nothing in this Act shall be construed or implied to recognize any independent right to abortion under the constitution or laws of this state, nor shall it be construed or implied to recognize the constitutional validity of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, P.L. 111-148.

Bioethics Defense Fund was the only legal organization providing on-the-ground drafting and legal expertise to the Governor’s staff and the bill author in Louisiana and to the Catholic Conference in Arizona.  We are now consulting for nearly a dozen states whose legislatures were near a close at the time the President signed the national healthcare bill into law.

MODEL LEGISLATION: Contact BDF lawyers Nikolas T. Nikas and Dorinda C. Bordlee at info@bdfund.org or 504-231-7234.

Read the bill text of BDF-drafted La. H.B. 1247 and learn more information here.

OBAMACARE COURT CHALLENGE: The Obamacare health insurance exchanges are set to begin in 2014 IF they survive pending court challenges.   BDF will be representing the Catholic Medical Association in an amicus brief during the important appellate review of upcoming rulings.  Of particular concern is the law’s improper mandate that citizens in states who have not opted-out must use their personal dollars to buy abortion coverage, whether they want that coverage or not. Stay tuned.

August 21, 2010 at 1:01 pm 2 comments

La. Obamacare “Abortion Insurance Opt-Out” Heads to Senate Floor

Committee Testimony submitted by BDF Senior Counsel Dorinda C. Bordlee; La. Senate Health and Welfare Committee, 5/26/2010

Note: H.B. 1247 by Rep. Frank Hoffman passed by a vote of 5-2 and will be heard this week on the Senate floor before it heads to Governor Jindal’s desk.

House Bill 1247 by Representative Frank Hoffman is a common-sense, common-ground bill that simply takes advantage of an express provision found in the recently enacted federal health care overhaul bill.  HB 1247 addresses health plans that cover elective abortion in the so-called “Exchanges” that will be created in each State under the federal bill called “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”

 “Exchanges” will basically be Expedia-like markets where consumers can compare various health insurance plans before buying.

Contrary to current federal policy, the new Obama healthcare law will allow citizens by the year 2014 to use tax-subsidies in the state Exchanges to purchase insurance plans that cover elective abortion.

However – and this is the important part – Section 1303 of the new federal health care law expressly gives Louisiana and all other states the power to opt-out of allowing health plans in the Exchange to cover elective abortion. The law provides as follows:

 ‘‘SEC. 1303. ‘‘(a) STATE OPT-OUT OF ABORTION COVERAGE.— ‘‘(1) A State may elect to prohibit abortion coverage in qualified health plans offered through an Exchange in such State if such State enacts a law to provide for such prohibition.

 In April of this year, Tennessee and Arizona became the first states to enact this “Abortion Opt-out” law.  Bills have also been recently passed and sent to the Governors of Missouri, Mississippi, Florida and Oklahoma. 

 Louisiana must pass HB 1247 if the state wants to take advantage of the option to prohibit tax-subsidized abortion through health plans in the Louisiana Exchange.

 Abortion is about taking human lives, not saving them.  That’s why abortion is not healthcare.  And that is why overwhelming majorities in Louisiana and across the nation oppose the use of scarce tax dollars to fund other people’s elective abortions.

 ______________________________
Dorinda C. Bordlee
Vice President, Senior Counsel
Bioethics Defense Fund
Human Rights from Beginning to End
www.BDFund.org

dbordlee@bdfund.org
(504) 231-7234

June 2, 2010 at 1:35 pm Leave a comment

La. Abortion Insurance Opt-out goes to House Floor

 On April 22, 2010, the Louisiana House of Representatives will consider passage of the Abortion Insurance Opt-out bill, La. H.B. 1247 by Rep. Frank Hoffman (R-Monroe). The following policy points are designed to assist legislators in understanding this important bill that is designed to limit the harm of Obamacare’s liberalization of abortion funding policy. 

As a co-drafter of this bill (which can be read here), Bioethics Defense Fund included the following provision to recognize that Obamacare may be repealed or invalidated in the pending court challenges:

“Nothing in this Act shall be construed or implied to recognize any independent right to abortion under the constitution or laws of this state, nor shall it be construed or implied to recognize the constitutional validity of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.”

Abortion Insurance Opt-out: Policy Points

La. H.B. 1247 does two things:

 1.      Takes the option in the new national health reform law to prohibit elective abortion coverage in health plans included in the future Louisiana “Exchange;” 

 2.     Prohibits all Louisiana health insurance issuers from covering elective abortion to provide for consistent regulation of health plans inside and outside of the Exchange.

 The Obama health insurance legislation is entitled “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”  Section 1303 of the legislation clearly gives Louisiana the power to opt-out of abortion coverage in the state exchange:

 ‘‘SEC. 1303. SPECIAL RULES.

‘‘(a) STATE OPT-OUT OF ABORTION COVERAGE.— ‘‘(1) IN GENERAL.—A State may elect to prohibit abortion coverage in qualified health plans offered through an Exchange in such State if such State enacts a law to provide for such prohibition.

 ‘‘(2) TERMINATION OF OPT OUT.—A State may repeal a law described in paragraph (1) and provide for the offering of such services through the Exchange.

 OBJECTIONS AND ANSWERS:  These objections were raised in the La. House Insurance Committee, where the bill passed by a vote of 8-1 on April 14, 2010

  • Objection:  We should not pass HB 1247 and leave the status quo in the insurance industry.

 Answer:  If we do not pass HB 1247, there will be a change in the status quo regarding tax-subsidized abortion in the soon-to-be-established La. Exchange.  The Hyde Amendment currently forbids the use of federal funds for any part of a health benefits package that covers elective abortions.  Unlike Hyde, the new Obama health legislation allows citizens to use tax subsidies in the state Exchanges to purchase insurance plans that cover elective abortion. Louisiana must pass HB 1247 to take advantage of the option to prohibit all health benefits plans in the Louisiana Exchange from providing tax-subsidized abortion.

  

  • Objection:  HB 1247 illegitimately interferes with business.

Answer:  First, the Louisiana Association of Health Plans has informed the author that they are remaining neutral on this legislation. 

Further, HB 1247 is not about business, it is about the moral issue established in Louisiana law regarding the sanctity of human life.  Since 1973, Louisiana has treated abortion differently than other issues because it takes the life of a living human being.  Because of this, Louisiana already regulates other private businesses with respect to abortion, such as hospitals and abortion facilities.

Further, Section 1(c)(2) the bill clearly states that the prohibition of elective abortion coverage will be applied at the renewal of a contract.  It will therefore not immediately alter any current contracts.

Finally, Louisiana is completely within its power to enact HB 1247.  The McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945 (15 U.S.C. §§ 1011-1015) gave states the power to regulate the insurance industry, and since then 5 other states (Idaho, Kentucky, Missouri, North Dakota, and Oklahoma) have taken the opportunity to prohibit the insurance coverage of elective abortion within their state.

  • Objection: HB 1247 has an exception to prevent the death of the mother; what about providing insurance to abort a child with abnormalities that make the child likely to die during or soon after childbirth?

 Answer:  We certainly feel great sympathy for those undergoing this situation.  However, the psychological stress of carrying a child with fatal abnormalities will not be lessened by an insurance company paying for the woman to abort that child. 

 The 5 States that already ban elective abortion coverage do not pay for aborting children thought to have fatal abnormalities.  Insurance will cover childbirth, and if the unborn child dies in the course of the delivery or shortly thereafter, that is not considered an elective abortion – therefore the usual medical expenses of the childbirth would be covered by insurance.

In addition, because the determination of whether a child will survive outside the womb is not always a black or white issue, a statutory exception for cases of fetal abnormality would have to be written in such a broad manner  that it would open loopholes for almost all abortions to be funded by insurance.


[i] “Long-Term Physical & Psychological Health Consequences of Induced Abortion: Review of the Evidence,” by J.M. Thorp, Jr., MD, K.E. Hartmann, MD, PhD, and E.M. Shadigian, MD. OB/GYN Survey 58(1): 67-79, 2003.

 The study can be reviewed at www.BDFund.org/abortionhurtswomen.asp, last checked April 19, 2010. This meta-analysis reviewed over 60 international studies and included more than one million women.

April 21, 2010 at 12:15 pm Leave a comment

State Response: Banning Abortion Coverage

Abortion isn’t healthcare.  That’s why Bioethics Defense Fund is assisting states in prohibiting health insurance issuers from covering elective abortion both in the newly created Obamacare Exchanges, and in all policies.  The following is a fact sheet created by Bioethics Defense Fund for a pending Louisiana bill:

 ________

La. H.B. 1247 by Rep. Frank Hoffman does two things:

(1) prohibits Louisiana health insurance issuers from covering elective abortion, defined to mean an abortion for any reason other than to save the life of the mother, and

(2) provides that health plans offered through the newly created State Exchanges shall not provide elective abortion coverage.

 Abortion is about destroying lives, not saving them.  That’s why elective abortion isn’t health care and has no place in health insurance policies or health reform legislation.

 In addition to intentionally taking the life of a healthy human being in the womb, studies show that abortion carries significant risks of causing physical and psychological harm to women. 

  • Unfortunately, the health insurance reform bill signed by President Obama on March 23, 2010 is the most expansive abortion-funding legislation ever to be passed by Congress.

The Obama health insurance legislation is entitled “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (“the Obama Act”).  It enables both: (1) direct funding of abortion at federally regulated Community Health Centers (CHCs); and (2) federal subsidies of health insurance plans that include elective abortion coverage, provided that enrollees also pay an abortion surcharge into a segregated fund.

  • La. H.B. 1247 does not and cannot address the above two streams of federal funding.  Rather, H.B. 1247 is in response to the following “Nelson compromise language” included in the Obama Act:

 ‘‘SEC. 1303. SPECIAL RULES.
‘‘(a) STATE OPT-OUT OF ABORTION COVERAGE.—

 ‘‘(1) IN GENERAL.—A State may elect to prohibit abortion coverage in qualified health plans offered through an Exchange in such State if such State enacts a law to provide for such prohibition.

 ‘‘(2) TERMINATION OF OPT OUT.—A State may repeal a law described in paragraph (1) and provide for the offering of such services through the Exchange.

Conclusion:  In addition to taking advantage of this option to prohibit elective abortion coverage in health plans offered through the state Exchange, H.B. 1247 follows the model in effect in seven states by prohibiting all health insurance issuers from covering elective abortion: Idaho, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin.

  • BDF is also assisting policy makers with other customized approaches, including Arizona, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and New York.

April 12, 2010 at 12:14 pm Leave a comment

Wash Post Column: Exposing the public-funding of abortion scam

Kathleen Parker, a syndicated Washington Post columnist,  has a nice, clean explanation of how the health care bill will lead to federally-funded abortions, and she quotes Bioethics Defense Fund:

Federally funded abortions are in our future

By Kathleen Parker
Washington Post, Sunday, March 28, 2010; A11
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/26/AR2010032603066_pf.html

  • Also of interest, is Yuval Levin’s NRO post debunking Mr. Stupak’s claim that the Obama Executive Order is equivalent to the Bush Executive Order on non-embryonic stem cells. 

March 29, 2010 at 12:31 pm Leave a comment

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