Here we’re not talking about the recent HHS mandate requiring health plans to cover abortifacients, but a different rule designed to co-opt you and me:
Finalized on March 12, 2012 (and set to go into effect with the 2014 exchanges), the new HHS rule implements Section 1303 of the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” The new rule imposes mandates on every single enrollee in a qualified health plan that happens to include abortion coverage. In particular, federal law will soon mandate that every single individual enrolled in such a plan make payments to a private fund designated solely to the payment of abortion. This scheme allows Obamacare to get around the controversial issue of government-funded abortions with a new funding source: mandatory private payments by you, the insured.
Here’s how it works. The new rule authorizes issuers to offer abortioncoverage as part of their plans in the government-subsidized exchanges. For issuers that voluntarily include abortion coverage as part of their health plans, the new HHS rule mandates the private insurer to compel all enrollees to directly pay a separate abortion premium “without regard to the enrollee’s age, sex or family status.” Not surprisingly, the abortion premium also must be paid without regard to whether the individual has a religious or moral objection to funding other people’s abortions.
The new rule specifies that the abortion premium must be separately itemized on each enrollee’s bill or payroll deduction. The Obama administration’s new rule then directs the issuer to place the abortion premiums into “allocation accounts” to be used “exclusively” to pay for other people’s elective abortion. […]
Further, “the HHS rule expressly instructs the issuer to hide the abortion coverage and the mandated separate abortion-premium payment from any advertising or information listings in the state exchanges.”
The three authors, Dorinda C. Bordlee and Nikolas T. Nikas with the Bioethics Defense Fund, and Mark Rienzi, senior counsel with The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and a professor of law at the Catholic University of America, believe that this is another avenue for the court challenges to kill the PPACA should current lawsuits fail. (The Supreme Court will vote on current challenges to the law on Friday, by the way, though the opinions won’t be issued until the summer.) I have my doubts.
In any event, the HHS mandate and this abortion mandate are for many of us moments of I Told You So. Whatever the merits of having the federal government involved in providing healthcare in the abstract, given the contemporary cultural and political situation, handing the government this sort of power is dangerous. Our default utilitarian posture combined with state power will lead to dire eventualities, for in a utilitarian scheme, many persons are expendable. (Elizabeth Scalia points out some chilling possibilities set to become realities very soon.) And many — myself included, in conversation and in internet print — were making that case routinely. How could supposedly pro-life politicians like Bart Stupak not have seen this coming?
It’s one thing — a disastrous, unjust thing — to have Roe vs. Wade as the law of the land, under which regime a woman can abort her child up to the point of delivery free from government restraint. (More recent regulations have curtailed that right around the edges, but Roe did indeed legalize abortion through all nine months of gestation.) But it’s another thing to go another step and then assert as a matter of policy that the government will promote the right to abortion and force citizens through devious means to fund it. The former situation allows for a sort of pluralism; the latter crushes dissent and compels complicity in a crime against humanity in a most illiberal manner.