Family Research Council

October 31, 2013 - Thursday

Crock of Ages: Sebelius Plays Ignorant on Abortion Funds

If the White House told insurance execs to "keep quiet" about ObamaCare, they certainly listened when it came to abortion coverage. Yesterday, even the boss of the entire system, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, managed a surprised expression when Congressman John Shimkus (R-Ill.) asked her why the agency was hiding coverage details from pro-lifers. Without skipping a beat, the HHS chief insisted she didn't know what she so clearly knew in 2009, which is that ObamaCare is the biggest expansion of taxpayer-funded abortion in U.S. history.

"I can't tell you what I don't know firmly right now," Sebelius said. "... I will get that information." Are we really supposed to believe that one of the most zealous abortion supporters in the Obama administration doesn't know which plans cover the procedure she's spent so much of her career advocating? That a woman who fought for late-term abortions in Kansas (and threw a Governor's mansion party for the criminal performing them) would be in the dark after three years about whether the network she oversees is covering her pet cause? Give me a break.

Meanwhile, FRC's Anna Higgins, whose new column confirmed what Sebelius would not, made such a splash in the media that D.C. officials called FRC to clarify their stance! In the piece, Anna, a resident of DC, talks about calling the exchange programs in the District and asking if their plans cover abortion. "Yes," they all replied, because it's listed as an "essential benefit" under ObamaCare. "So, there's nothing I can do?" Anna asked. "I'm going to have to pay for abortion no matter what?" "Yes," the woman told her.

Just hours after Anna's piece started lighting up the web, a representative from the D.C. Health Benefit Exchange called Anna and profusely apologized for the "incorrect information" (which, interestingly enough, had been confirmed by every coverage supervisor Anna spoke to). He told her that all of Aetna private plans on the exchange are pro-life, as well as four other multi-state plans. Elective abortion coverage, he emphasized, is not -- as Anna had been told -- an "essential benefit." The office was so intent on correcting their mistake that it even tweeted pro-lifers on the #BeTransparent hashtag to get everyone's attention -- even including a link to the updated FAQs on the website.

But just because there are pro-life plans in the District doesn't mean there aren't pro-abortion plans funded by taxpayers like you and me. The good news is that pro-lifers have choices, but the bad news is that those same pro-lifers are still funding abortion in the 27 states that haven't opted out of abortion insurance. As nice as it would be to wall off the states that block abortion coverage, the reality is that the government's money goes into a big health care pot that's parceled out to all the states. That means a pro-lifer in Alabama may be funding abortions in Rhode Island -- even if their own legislature outlawed it.

At the very least, Americans deserve to know which plans cover the procedure before they enroll. That's the kind of clarification that Rep. Shimkus asked for -- but never got -- from Secretary Sebelius. And let's face it: the onus shouldn't be on citizens to force the government to comply with its law on taxpayer-funded abortion, it should be on HHS. (And don't forget, funds are sure to flow to abortion through those "community health centers" too.)

If Secretary Sebelius won't be forthcoming, Congress will be. To call the administration's bluff, Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) filed a bill, The Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act, that demands HHS provide all the insurance details to exchange shoppers up front. He understands that when it comes to ObamaCare, what you don't know can hurt you -- and hundreds of thousands of unborn children too. Contact your congressman and ask him to cosponsor Smith's bill!

IRS Tries to Spring a Leak -- from Punishment

Only under the Obama administration would the law protect the criminal and punish the innocent. Unfortunately, that's been the effect of one of the most explosive IRS abuse cases in years. For months, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) has tried to find the IRS agent responsible for leaking their confidential donor list to their biggest political opponent, the pro-homosexual Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

Turns out, the agency knows who did it -- but because of a loophole in the law, they don't have to reveal it. That's right -- the same part of the IRS code that outlaws the crime this person committed also protects his identity. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.), who vowed to get to the bottom of the scandal, followed the paper trail all the way to this person and said he's astounded the government is being handcuffed from holding him accountable.

"What makes the situation even worse," Camp told National Review Online, is that the law, intended to protect taxpayers, is being used as a shield for those that perpetrate wrongdoing." And in NOM's case, the damage has been widespread and devastating. Once HRC slipped the information to the press, the documents were plastered all over the internet, triggering a massive intimidation campaign. Because the tax information included donors' names and addresses, businessmen and women who supported marriage became targets of harassment and boycotts -- or worse, vandalism and physical assault.

And it wasn't just 2007's donors who were affected, but potential donors as well. "A number of donors are concerned about their names being disclosed," NOM Chairman John Eastman explained. "...[O]ur donors tell us, 'We are fearful of giving money to you to help support the cause that we believe in because our business and our family are at risk.'"

Of course, the IRS's refusal to cooperate is no surprise, especially since the same office that committed the crime was under the corrupt direction of Lois Lerner, author of the anti-conservative crackdown that denied so many organizations' tax-exempt status. It will take the Justice Department's involvement to hold the guilty accountable. And based on the Obama DOJ's pattern of lawlessness, I don't think many people are holding their breath.

** BREAKING NEWS... One of the most dangerous pieces of legislation of the year is barreling down the track next week, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) makes the first move on the anti-faith, anti-freedom Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). A vote could come as early as next week, so if you haven't contacted both of your senators, don't wait ! Look for more on this bill, which would fundamentally -- and irreversibly -- change the way Americans do business in tomorrow's Update.

*** Is the "If you like your plan you can keep it," the new "Read my lips: No new taxes?" Ken Blackwell and Bob Morrison think so. Check out their new op-ed on the ObamaCare disaster, "Broken Promises, Broken Presidencies."

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

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