House Democrats this week defeated amendments to the COVID relief bill that would have prevented taxpayer dollars from funding abortion within subsidized insurance plans.
At issue was the relief package’s subsidizing of Cobra insurance, which allows unemployed individuals to temporarily remain on their previous employer’s health care plans.
In two committee hearings, Republicans offered amendments to the bill that would have added Hyde Amendment-type language preventing the subsidies from going toward abortion coverage in Cobra policies.
Democrats defeated the amendments along party-line votes. In the House Ways and Means Committee, the amendment lost, 24-18, and in the House Education and Labor Committee, it was defeated, 27-21.
Democratic Rep. Judy Chu (Calif.) compared abortion coverage to cancer coverage, arguing both were necessary in insurance plans.
The Hyde Amendment is a legislative provision dating to the 1970s that prohibits federal funds from being used for funding abortions. The amendment must be reauthorized annually
Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) offered the pro-life amendment in the Ways and Means Committee, saying it would ensure the Covid relief bill follows Hyde’s precedent.
“A majority of Americans, nearly 60 percent, agree that tax dollars should not be used to fund elective abortions,” Walorski said. “The Hyde Amendment has been in place for nearly half a century with bipartisan agreement, saving the lives of more than 2 million innocent babies and protecting Americans’ conscience rights.
“My amendment will preserve this important pro-life safeguard by adding longstanding Hyde protections to this subtitle,” Walorski said. “This will make clear that a taxpayer-subsidized Cobra plan won’t be used to pay for elective abortions. It would also give issuers the chance to instead provide COBRA-eligible plan options that comply with the Hyde Amendment.”
Chu opposed Walorski’s amendment.
“Cobra is supposed to provide employees access to the same exact employer-sponsored plan as when they were employed,” Chu said. “Abortion is health care, and excluding abortion from Cobra coverage makes as little sense as excluding cancer coverage.”
Chu is on record as opposing the Hyde Amendment.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, tweeted in reply to Chu’s argument: “Real healthcare in the case of a difficult pregnancy looks like addressing the illness of the mother or unborn child; not eliminating the child. Real doctors heal; they don't harm. Two patients. Every time.”
Real healthcare in the case of a difficult pregnancy looks like addressing the illness of the mother or unborn child; not eliminating the child. Real doctors heal; they don't harm.— MarjorieDannenfelser (@marjoriesba) February 11, 2021
Two patients. Every time.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Geoff Livingston
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.