November 08, 2018
A day after Republicans lost the House, President Trump decided to remind everyone that you don’t need Congress to win on life. If you take a good look at the last two years, you’ll notice that most of the success conservatives have had on abortion didn’t come from the Hill -- it came from the administration. With the exception of judges in the Senate, there’s been very little to cheer about on the issue in either chamber. And that’s probably a big reason Americans were so frustrated with the GOP House: lots of promises, but not much to show for them.
Fortunately, this president doesn’t just know how to make promises -- he knows how to keep them. So, when the late Senator John McCain sank the GOP’s best chance for repealing Obamacare, this White House didn’t sit on its hands. It went to work, chipping away at the most outrageous parts of the law. And the unconstitutional HHS mandate was one of them.
Last October, HHS announced that it was cleaning up the mess made by the previous administration’s “pay-for-contraception-or-else” policy. At the time, Barack Obama insisted that groups like Little Sisters of the Poor weren’t actually paying for the drugs. But that was a lie. He’d simply invented a sly little accounting gimmick that hid the truth: people of faith were still footing the bill -- just through a third party.
Now, 13 months after Trump’s team first issued an interim rule, HHS is making it final. For the first time in years, no religious group, nonprofit, small business, or other employers with moral objections will have to cover pills they believe destroys a human life. It’s un-American -- and more importantly, it’s unconstitutional. No one should have to choose between violating their beliefs or paying ridiculous fines to exercise them.
And that’s not all the White House is doing. Leaders at HHS are also making sure Americans aren’t kept in the dark about any abortion coverage in their health care plans. Under Obama, millions of people on the exchanges were secretly paying for elective abortions. Now, as part of yesterday’s proposal, insurers would have to send Obamacare customers a separate bill explaining how much of their money is being spent on abortion services. “This administration is committed to making sure taxpayer dollars are spent appropriately,” said Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Seema Verma. “Maintaining a high level of program integrity on the exchange is essential, including ensuring that premium tax credits only go to those who are eligible for them.”
Both of these changes are major victories for life -- and they didn’t happen through Congress. They happened through the administration. Now obviously, after Tuesday’s election, some things are going to change. But we can all be grateful that the president’s commitment to life and religious freedom isn’t one of them.
For more on what Tuesday means for important issues like this, check out the new op-ed by FRC’s Alexandra McPhee, “Post-midterm Optimism for Religious Freedom.”
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.