Better SAFE Than Sorry
If the sequester was supposed to grind government to a halt, you wouldn't know it by the volumes coming out of Health and Human Services (HHS). On the first afternoon of the President's doomsday, HHS was unusually productive--pumping out more than 700 new pages of ObamaCare regulations.
The deluge, one of several recent bursts of rule-making, was part of the plan to implement more taxpayer-funded abortion--but thanks to former FRCer (and current President of the Charlotte Lozier Institute) Chuck Donovan, Americans are learning more about the President's wildly unpopular agenda. Buried in the pages of regulatory jargon is the rule that will almost certainly expand the number of people who have low-cost abortion coverage. Until ObamaCare, Chuck points out, every federal employee health care plan excluded abortion. Friday's rule makes it clear that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which oversees those federal plans, will allow abortion coverage if the state does. In other words, unless a state explicitly blocks abortion coverage, people in that state will subsidize it since ObamaCare bypasses the Hyde Amendment, the law which had stopped the government from funding health plans with abortion coverage. The result? Taxpayers will be on the hook for potentially hundreds of thousands of additional abortion subsidies. This is historic, Chuck explains, and not in a good way. "Abortion is not health care," he writes, "and OPM will soon be managing multi-state plans that assume it is." Of course, the silver lining is that states can opt out of the abortion coverage in ObamaCare--and several have.
At least 18 states--Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin--have enacted legislation to ban abortion coverage in state exchanges. Others, including Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Texas, have similar laws in the works. (New Jersey tried, but failed, to pass a measure last year.) The reality is, states that don't move to protect themselves will soon see OPM barge into their exchange and contract for one or more plans that include abortion. If your leaders haven't passed a bill protecting taxpayers (and the unborn) from ObamaCare's real agenda, encourage them to do so--and quickly! Barring a legislative miracle, these rules are scheduled to take effect in mid-May. And even if your state does have an abortion opt-out, it's important to realize that your federal tax dollars are still going to Washington and cycling to other states that pay for abortion.
Congressman Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.) is doing everything in his power to pass a blanket prohibition that would block OPM from administering any plan--anywhere--that covers abortion. His bill, Stop Abortion Funding in Multi-state Exchanges Act (or SAFE), keeps the Obama administration from reaching over federal law to expand its culture of death. Encourage your congressman to sign on and help keep taxpayers, women, and children SAFE.
In the House, Where Conscience Is King
Unfortunately, President Obama isn't the only one with something up his sleeve on ObamaCare. Just a week after GOP leaders came to an agreement on the federal budget, it looks like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is reneging on his promise to keep the continuing resolution, or CR, free of any amendments. Both sides had settled on a "clean" CR to keep the government running when the resolution expires late this month. Like a lot of conservatives, FRC wasn't exactly thrilled about the idea of passing up one of the few opportunities to force a vote on conscience protections.
With the President's abortion-contraception mandate barreling down the track, the CR was the most logical place to include language protecting Americans' First Freedom. Now that Sen. Reid is hinting at a far broader bill, House leaders need to follow Rep. Steve King's (R-Iowa) advice and "band together" in refusing to pass a resolution unless it includes language defending the right of Americans--including business owners--to act according to their moral beliefs. "This is a constitutional principle that's been handed to us from our Founding Fathers, and it's not something I think we should be negotiating on," said Congressman King. If liberals want to argue the measure's importance, they'll have to do so with 70-80% of Americans, who overwhelmingly support such a proposal. FRC made exactly that point in a joint letter that our team circulated late last week to House leadership.
In a matter of days close to 90 organizations and a handful of individuals signed on to FRC's call to take the necessary steps to include conscience protections in the must-pass legislation of the CR. (Check it out here.) Unfortunately for companies like Hobby Lobby, Congress's dawdling on the issue has already cost them. HHS's mandate, ordering employers to cover abortion and birth control pills, is already in effect for businesses, and it will start directly impacting groups like FRC on August 1. Contact your congressman today and ask him to fight for consciences today--or risk losing more freedoms tomorrow.
Notes from Music City!
With a new live daily radio show, FRC has plenty to talk about at the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) convention in Nashville this week. This year's event holds some special significance for FRC, as we introduce "Washington Watch with Tony Perkins" to radio stations across the country. While our team is learning new ways to advance faith, family, and freedom through the media, I'll be taking the show on the road--literally--by broadcasting Monday and Tuesday's programs from Nashville. One of the perks of being surrounded by so many members of the Christian media is that FRC will have plenty of broadcasting heavyweights at tomorrow afternoon's press conference on conscience rights. Richard Land, Janet Parshall, FRC's own Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, and others will be on hand to talk about Rep. Diane Black's (R-Tenn.) Health Care Conscience Rights Act, which she plans to introduce Tuesday to protect the religious liberties of anyone purchasing--or providing--health care. Last year, FRC hosted a news conference at the NRB convention to release a petition signed by over 2,500 religious leaders in opposition to the HHS mandate.
** FRC's own Chris Gacek has a spot in the debate club over marriage in today's U.S. News and World Report. Check out his piece, "The Supreme Court Shouldn't Redefine Marriage" here.