Greta Van Susteren interviewed former Congressman Bart Stupak last night to get his take on the Obama administration’s new mandate forcing religious institutions to cover contraception, abortifacients, and sterilization in their employee insurance plans.
Pro-lifers will have no trouble remembering Stupak as the leader of a group of pro-life Democrats who signed on to Obamacare in 2009 after President Obama wrote an executive order attempting to allay pro-life concerns that taxpayer funded abortions might be hidden in the bill.
But pro-lifers were not alone in saying the executive order was worth the paper it was written on. So did such renowned abortion proponents as Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards and former Obama Chief-of-Staff Rahm Emanuel.
Stupak echoed former colleague Kathy Dahlkemper’s recent contention that the executive order not only protects taxpayers from funding abortion but also protects religious healthcare entities from the contraception mandate.
Someone needs to call the president.
Stupak’s response here is incorrect (and frustrating) but relevant…
Van Susteren: I’m trying to understand your position. Is the morning-after pill, in your mind, contraception, or is it as – some Catholics might say it’s a form of abortion?
Stupak: I think it’s a – it’s a contraceptive. It’s – and you’re destroying an embryo, you’re taking a life. Therefore, I’m not in favor of that, nor does the Catholic church.
… because it sets up the question on contraceptive conscience protection…
Van Susteren: All right, so if it’s contraceptive, then it is not covered in the executive order that the president signed, is that right, that that executive order that you agreed to dealt with abortion?
Stupak: Oh, no. No, it dealt with – it dealt with not only abortion, but also with the conscience clause. In fact, if you look in section one of the executive order, it’s – very clearly it says – it cites the Church amendment way back in 1973, all the way to the Weldon amendment, which was in legislation that President Obama signed in 2009, in which they talked about the conscience clause and the right of individuals and institutions such as the church to not provide these services if it violates their tenets of their faith and their principles and their conscience.
Here’s the relevant portion of the executive order, according to Stupak and Dahlkemper:
Section 1. Policy….
The Act maintains current Hyde Amendment restrictions governing abortion policy and extends those restrictions to the newly-created health insurance exchanges. Under the Act, longstanding Federal laws to protect conscience (such as the Church Amendment, 42 U.S.C. §300a-7, and the Weldon Amendment, Pub. L. No. 111-8, §508(d)(1) (2009)) remain intact and new protections prohibit discrimination against health care facilities and health care providers because of an unwillingness to provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.
Numerous executive agencies have a role in ensuring that these restrictions are enforced, including the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
I have read both amendments and checked with two impeccable legislative sources in D.C. who confirm there is no conscience protection in the Church Amendment for other than sterilization and abortion, and there is only “individual” conscience protection in the Weldon Amendment, not institutional.
In other words, they are both meaningless to this discussion (and in general).
Furthermore, there is no operative language in the executive order. It merely observes there are two conscience laws, like observing there are two clouds floating by.
Meanwhile, Obamacare states the HHS Secretary can mandate coverage of anything s/he decides is a “preventative service” which Kathleen Sebelius has indeed deemed contraception, the morning after pill, the IUD, and sterilization.
National Right to Life Committee’s Legislative Director Douglas Johnson further explained in an email to me today, “As National Right to Life warned before the ObamaCare law was passed, the law explictly grants the Administration authority to order every health plan to cover any medical service it desires, by defining it is a ‘preventive’ service – and there is absolutely nothing in Obama’s executive order that denies or weakens that authority in any way. Bart Stupak’s Fox interview only provides additional sad evidence that Stupak still has not grasped how thoroughly he was hoodwinked by the president in 2010 – and not only on this point.”