The Buck(eye) Stops Here on Abortion Funding
Most Americans probably have no recollection of what happened on March 24, 2010 -- except maybe former Congressman Bart Stupak. He was in the White House that morning to watch the President sign a deceptively meaningless executive order that promised the government wouldn't fund abortion as part of the health care law. Given the subterfuge that's now a hallmark of the Obama administration, it's likely that this "agreement" was a fraud from its inception.
And more than three years later, the White House is doing an excellent job proving why. According to the Washington Examiner's Paul Bedard, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who led the Planned Parenthood cheering section as Kansas's governor, is taking her allegiance to new heights with the ObamaCare law. In an April letter to insurers, Sebelius issued a regulation ordering companies to cover Planned Parenthood clinics in their state exchange packages. Planned Parenthood, which she deems as an "essential community provider," is part of the long list of local organizations that insurers are required to partner with. (Others, Bedard says, include lesbian and gay centers, family planning clinics, and "holistic" centers.)
"We've never covered these sorts of thing," a Wisconsin provider told Bedard. He, like most health care representatives, is probably horrified at the prospect of collaborating with an organization which (when it isn't lobbying for infanticide) is on trial for government fraud and botched abortions. Unfortunately for Americans, Sebelius -- not Congress -- decides what belongs in state exchanges. And if her past relationships are any indication, taxpayers are in for even more surprises when ObamaCare goes into effect January 1.
While the President's team tries to open up new funding for Planned Parenthood, several states are fighting to end the ones that already exist. Arizona's legislature, whose ban on taxpayer-funding for Planned Parenthood was struck down by the courts last year, is trying again -- this time with a more targeted approach. Today, House leaders are scheduled to debate a last-minute amendment to the state's budget that would zero out taxpayer-funding of Planned Parenthood -- except for non-abortion services.
Our good friend Cathi Herrod, who heads up the Center for Arizona Policy, explains the problem with directing any money -- even non-abortion dollars -- to Cecile Richards's group. "The basic pro-life concern is that every $1 that goes to an abortion provider for a health care service frees up another dollar to subsidize abortions services," she told local reporters. Under this language, Arizona would be banned from using government dollars to "indirectly subsidize abortion services including funding for rent, employee salaries, and other overhead or administrative costs." Also, as it currently stands, Arizona's abortion clinics are the only state medical facilities that aren't subjected to "unannounced inspections." SB 1069 would change that. Under the same amendment, Planned Parenthood clinics would face the same surprise health department visits as any other office.
Meanwhile, Sebelius's new abortion emphasis won't find many more fans in Ohio, where the state Senate just passed a $61.7 billion budget out of the House that takes a clever approach to weeding out Planned Parenthood. In the new proposal, leaders would prioritize pregnancy resource centers over Planned Parenthood in federal funding for its state programs. It also bars doctors who work at public hospitals from also servicing abortion clinics -- a move that could drive up the number of Planned Parenthood clinic closures. With doors closing in two more locations -- one in Pennsylvania and one in New York -- Jill Stanek reports that the number of Planned Parenthood clinics is down 23% since 1995.
Unfortunately, Delaware's "meat-market" facility wasn't one of them. After posing "a clear and immediate danger to the public" (state Attorney General Beau Biden's words), the clinic guilty of 14 health violations--including reusing bloody gloves, exposing women to unsanitary equipment, and encouraging unlicensed workers to medicate patients -- is back in business, and, like all Planned Parenthood clinics, looking forward to its new insurance partnerships under ObamaCare.
Transfixed by Transgenders
If you think Planned Parenthood clinics are the worst things funded by ObamaCare, brace yourself. Led by Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), a group of Democrats is lobbying HHS to include special transgender services too. The law, they argue, is particularly "discriminatory" against cross-dressers and transgenders. In a letter circulated this week, they insist Secretary Sebelius change this by issuing new guidance, directing health care plans to lift the bans on "gender transition services," other "medically necessary surgical coverage," and mental health services. "An insurer," they argue, "may deny coverage for a transgender man's annual pelvic exam or a transgender woman's prostate cancer screening."
Although HHS hasn't tipped its hand on which guidelines -- if any -- it will change, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services did confirm in March that the government is considering whether to lift the spending ban on gender-reassignment surgery. On the CMS.gov website, officials posted this notice: "Please note that we are making an administrative change to the NCD title under this reconsideration to reflect current medical terminology. The new title for Section 140.3 will be Surgical Treatment for Gender Identity Disorder." If the Obama administration listens to the National Center for Transgender Equality, taxpayers could be footing the bill for government-sponsored sex changes -- which most of us would agree -- is hardly "change we can believe in."
Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert
Dr. Rosaria Champagne Butterfield took an unlikely journey to faith in Christ. As a lesbian professor at Syracuse University, Dr. Butterfield had no desire to become part of the heterosexist, patriarchal culture that she perceived to be the identity of Christianity. Her thinking was challenged by the letter of a local pastor who inquired about her basic presuppositions and asked her questions no one had ever asked her before.
What began as an academic exercise to find fault with the Scripture and expose the darker side of Christianity ended with answers and a changed life that resonates in today's culture. Learn more about her remarkable story this Wednesday, June 12, during a special policy lecture at noon in FRC headquarters.
On-site registration is at capacity, but be sure to watch the event at no charge by registering for our live webstream. For those who registered to attend in person, please arrive at least 30 minutes early so that we can process you through security. There will be a bag check that each attendee will have to pass through before entering the event. Thank you for your patience.
** For more on the military's "atheizers," check out the new column from FRC's Ken Blackwell and Bob Morrison, "The New Axis," in American Thinker.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.