There’s a famous saying warning that those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it. As the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress begin the process of fulfilling their campaign promise to “repeal and replace” Obamacare, it makes sense to review the legislative history of a key component of that law to ensure that the errors of the past are not repeated.
In 2010, as President Obama’s signature health care program was making its way through Congress, a group of pro-life Democrats led by Congressman Bart Stupak of Michigan joined Republicans in offering an amendment to ensure that long-standing prohibitions against federal funding for abortion applied to the new law. A provision known as the Hyde Amendment bars federal taxpayer funds from being used either to pay directly for elective abortions or to finance insurance programs that allow federal dollars to be used to purchase elective abortion coverage. The Hyde Amendment first passed Congress in 1976 with a majority of votes from Democrats, and it has been substantially applied to federal health care programs ever since.
President Obama, the Democrat-controlled Congress led by Nancy Pelosi, and their allies in the abortion industry strenuously objected to any effort to extend the Hyde Amendment to their new health care scheme. Nevertheless, the pro-life forces in the House, Democrats and Republicans alike, held the balance of power. Without the votes of Congressman Stupak and his coalition of pro-life Democrats in the House, President Obama’s health care plan likely would not have prevailed.
What happened next is a travesty and a cautionary tale. Under intense pressure from the president and party leadership, all but one of the pro-life Democrats in the House abandoned their principles and voted for the Affordable Care Act, even though it authorized taxpayer funding for abortion. In exchange for their crucial votes in favor of the president’s top legislative priority, they accepted a promise from President Obama to issue an executive order that would prevent tax dollars from flowing to such things as risk pools and community…