Updated Nov. 17

By Peter J. Smith, Kathleen Gilbert, Steve Jalsevac

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 13, 2009 ( – Although the passage of the Pitts-Stupak amendment has been hailed as a pro-life gain in the fight over health-care reform, the recently passed House plan still has serious flaws troubling to pro-life advocates. has provided a preliminary summary of right-to-life concerns that will be updated as the debate over H.R. 3962, the the Affordable Health Care for America Act, continues to move forward.


  • School-based health-clinics: Sec. 2511 (p.1352) prohibits school-based health clinic grants from being used for abortion, and specifies that eligible clinics are those that do not perform abortion. However, no language prohibits school-based health clinics from giving school-girls referrals to an offsite abortion facility. [ ]
  • The passed Pitts-Stupak amendment still allows government funding of killing of unborn children conceived from rape or incest or when the life of the mother is threatened by a pregnancy. These legal exceptions, wrong in themselves, are often exploited to justify abortions for situations that do not actually meet the exceptions criteria. It is extremely rare today for a mother's life to actually be in serious danger from a continued pregnancy, but doctors frequently make such a case in order to avoid possible lawsuits and costly, time-consuming prenatal care and complex births caused by problem pregnancies.
  • Expanded access and funding for abortifiacient contraception (Sec. 2526)


  • Sections 258 and 259: though containing some conscience protections, the bill does not clearly extend to health-care entities and workers that object to contraception, esp. abortifacient contraception.  Thus health-care providers with these moral objections, such as Catholic hospitals, would be affected. [Source:]


Pro-life advocates fear that H.R. 3962 will effect health-care rationing on a scale that does not yet exist in the United States, but is a way of life in countries with socialized health care such as Canada and the United Kingdom.

  • The law of supply and demand: Congressional Budget Office forecasts that  H.R. 3962 will insure an extra 36 million non-elderly individuals between 2013-2019.  Some analysts conclude that, since the supply of health care professionals will not be able to keep up with such a sudden influx of demand, that this will likely lead to rationing.
  • Price controls: Section 104 allows the Health Insurance Exchange Commissioner has the authority to kick out insurance companies participating in the health insurance exchange that he judges have “excessive or unjustified premium increases.” Private insurance companies face the choice of going out of business altogether or rationing health care services as a way to absorb the revenue loss. [Source NRLC]
  • Lack of protection in balancing cost and quality: Sec. 2401 establishes a “Center for Quality Improvement” that has four prime responsibilities: one, identifying existing “best practices;” two, create new ones; three, evaluate the old against the new; and four, implement the best practices in health-care.  The bill does guard against “quality-adjusted life year measures or any other methodologies that can be used to deny benefits to a beneficiary against the beneficiary's wishes on the basis of the beneficiary's age, life expectancy, present or predicted disability, or expected quality of life.”  However, as NRLC points out, the stipulation applies only in the “development” of such practices, and advances no such safeguard regarding the center's other three roles.
  • Sec. 1159 commissions the creation of Medicare reimbursement standards that ostensibly provide incentives for “high value care;” it, too, does not guard against “quality-adjusted” rationing.


  • Nudging”: Section 1233: offers to pay for voluntary consultations once every five years on end-of-life options.  As many critics have pointed out, in principle, this provision gives a financial incentive to doctors to take advantage of uncertainty or vulnerability on the part of the patient in order to “nudge” him or her towards options that would cost less. 
  • The Assisted Suicide loophole: Sections 240 and 1233: Health-care providers are forbidden from disseminating literature that encourages “assisted suicide”, “mercy killing”, or “euthanasia.” However no section defines what the terms mean – opening up a serious loophole.  States like Oregon and Washington do not use the term “assisted suicide.” Instead the term is “physician assisted death.” In effect, this bill fails to prevent assisted suicide options from being presented under another name.


  • Federal funding of Planned Parenthood-style permissive sex education programs“to prevent teen pregnancy” (section 2526), similar to that stipulated in the Senate version of Obamacare

See also Pro-Life Leaders React to Health Bill Outcome: Caution Outweighs Celebration