The pro-life base of the Republican Party is calling for GOP senators to fulfill their promises following suggestions the final GOP healthcare bill may still subsidize abortions in health insurance plans and may not defund abortion giant Planned Parenthood.
In a statement following the news that the Senate parliamentarian may reject the pro-life provisions in the Obamacare replacement plan, Susan B. Anthony president Marjorie Dannenfelser and Family Research Council president Tony Perkins released a joint statement, asserting their expectations from the U.S. Senators who belong to the political party that claims to be pro-life.
The pro-life leaders state:
The expectations of the pro-life movement have been very clear: The health care bill must not indefinitely subsidize abortion and must re-direct abortion giant Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding to community health centers. The Senate discussion draft includes these pro-life priorities, but we remain very concerned that either of these priorities could be removed from the bill for procedural or political reasons. We are working closely with our pro-life allies in the Senate to prevent this from happening as it could result in our opposition. We are confident that the pro-life Senate will ultimately move forward with our pro-life priorities intact.
Both Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) – a supporter of Planned Parenthood – and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) said they believed the issue of tax credits subsidizing abortions would not meet the Senate parliamentarian’s rules for the reconciliation budgetary procedure required to pass the Obamacare replacement bill.
“I believe that did not pass through the parliamentarian’s review so I don’t expect that,” Collins said, according to the Washington Examiner.
Tillis said Republicans were exploring alternative means to include anti-abortion language in the bill.
“It would not be in the direct sense it was proposed in the House, but I think there are ways to address most of the concerns of members,” he said.
The new tax credits created for the purchase of health insurance in the House healthcare bill included the Hyde Amendment – which prohibits taxpayer funding to be used for abortions.
If the parliamentarian – Elizabeth MacDonough – rejects this provision, the senators could attempt to utilize another program that already contains the Hyde Amendment for the tax credit plan. However, conservative senators who are also pro-life are dealing as well with a McConnell healthcare plan that continues many of the same problems that have plagued Obamacare and that drive up the cost of insurance.
In March, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) explained, according to The Hill, that the presiding officer of the Senate – currently Vice President Mike Pence – could choose to disregard the parliamentarian’s advice and issue a different ruling.
“Under the Budget Act of 1974, which is what governs reconciliation, it is the presiding officer, the vice president of the United States, who rules on what’s permissible on reconciliation and what is not,” Cruz said. “That’s a conversation I’ve been having with a number of my colleagues.”
“You don’t have to override the parliamentarian or get a new parliamentarian,” the senator added. “Under the statute, it is the vice president who rules. It is the presiding officer who makes the decision. The parliamentarian advises on that question.”
However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has called for the Senate to mind MacDonough’s advice.
Nevertheless, Pence is a strong pro-life advocate, and at Focus on the Family’s 40th anniversary celebration Friday, the vice president said the GOP healthcare bill would “defund Planned Parenthood once and for all.”
For years, the pro-life base of the GOP has been told by Republican politicians that Planned Parenthood would finally be defunded when the GOP controlled the House, the Senate, and the White House. Now, with Republicans leading the way in Congress and a pro-life President Donald Trump in the White House, these activists are expecting the GOP to come through for them.
Americans United for Life (AUL) president and CEO Catherine Glenn Foster said elected officials should keep their promises to eliminate abortion funding and to protect the conscience rights of all Americans who, under Obamacare’s HHS contraception mandate, faced significant governmental fines as a result of noncompliance.
“I was at the Senate office of Senator Mitch McConnell asking him to redirect scarce tax dollars to real medical services for women because abortion is not healthcare,” she said.
“Replacing Obamacare with healthcare that respects both life and the constitutional rights of all Americans is a pro-life necessity,” Foster added. “It is un-American to use the force of law against those whose ethics require that they defend and protect life.”
AUL’s president says that, under former President Barack Obama’s signature legislation, “the concerns of pro-life Americans were ignored in favor of the abortion industry’s coercive and profit-maximizing agenda.”
Cruz said in his statement about McConnell’s bill that he hopes the Senate will make some changes to the measure that will really bring down the cost of health insurance for Americans.
The senator stated:
[A]s currently drafted, this bill draft does not do nearly enough to lower premiums. That should be the central issue for Republicans – repealing Obamacare and making healthcare more affordable. Because of this, I cannot support it as currently drafted, and I do not believe it has the votes to pass the Senate.
Cruz said, however, that he is glad the Senate draft bill “retains the provisions previously passed by Congress to prevent taxpayer dollars from funding organizations that perform abortions.”
A Marist national survey released in January found 83 percent of American adults oppose spending U.S. tax dollars to facilitate abortions overseas, and 61 percent – including 61 percent of women – oppose spending tax dollars helping to finance abortions in the U.S.
Additionally, the poll found that nearly three in four Americans – including a majority of residents who say they are “pro-choice,” want significant restrictions on abortion.
President Donald Trump has promised to defund Planned Parenthood and redirect its taxpayer funding to other community healthcare centers if the group continues to perform abortions.