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Fr. Mark Hodges

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Will Trump’s Obamacare replacement REALLY defund Planned Parenthood? Pro-lifers aren’t sure

Fr. Mark Hodges

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 13, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — The long-promised legislation to repeal ObamaCare and its forced abortion coverage mandate was released last week, but pro-life leaders have concerns about possible loopholes.

The “American Health Care Act” would, in fact, defund Planned Parenthood Medicaid reimbursements for one year. One section of the bill explicitly says that states may not directly spend federal funds for healthcare on any business that “provides for abortions.” The legislation also prohibits federal tax dollars from paying for insurance that covers abortion.

However, pro-life leaders are saying the bill’s “tax credits” could be manipulated to pay for abortions. Family Research Council president Tony Perkins wrote that the American Health Care Act “could allow funds from the refundable credits to pay for abortions in health savings accounts.”

Americans United for Life, the National Right to Life Society, the March for Life Action (MFLA), and Students for Life of America agree that the proposed legislation needs fixing.

MFLA president Tom McClusky advocated immediate changes “specifically with regards to tax credits and healthcare savings — ensuring that neither go to pay for abortion.”

Students for Life president Kristan Hawkins told The Daily Signal that any possible use of taxes for abortion is “a deal breaker.”

“No taxpayer funding of abortion is acceptable, ever,” she said.

Each pro-life organization offered hope that the bill could eventually be supported.

“We look forward to working within the legislative process to fix such problems and guarantee that pro-life protections are included,” McClusky concluded.

Consternation within their party is causing House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell deep concern. For the ObamaCare replacement bill to pass, they need every Republican on their side. The bill will fail if they lose just three senators, or if 23 representatives waver.

Sensing in-house division, the Trump administration hosted a “listening session” with select pro-life leaders on Friday with Vice President Mike Pence.

The core problem is that the “budget reconciliation” process is being used to pass the bill, so the Senate only needs a simple majority and not 60 votes (Republicans have only a 52-48 majority in the Senate). That “budget reconciliation” process, however, has an added rule that limits legislation to only policies specifically related to the budget.

If a single pro-abortion senator invokes the added rule, the pro-life provisions would be taken out.

“If the abortion funding restrictions for healthcare credits and state funds in this new bill fails in the Senate, then these provisions will subsidize abortion,” Perkins summarized. “In that case, the pro-life community could not support the overall bill and should oppose it.”

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In 2015, Congress passed an ObamaCare repeal bill with explicit pro-life provisions using the budget reconciliation process, but everyone knew it would be vetoed by President Obama (and it was).

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and others advocate simply reintroducing that 2015 ObamaCare repeal legislation. The concern, however, is that with a president who is sure to sign it, the budget reconciliation’s added rule will be invoked.

Many conservatives advocate for outright repeal of ObamaCare in its entirety, then the passage of healthcare reform that does not put the federal government in charge of socialized medicine. Perkins voiced this position.

“What’s troubling is that the GOP seems to be surrendering to the view that healthcare is a government entitlement,” he said.

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