President Barack Obama issued an executive order on Wednesday to ensure that Federal funds are not used to fund abortions. The order, part of a political deal, has come under fire from advocates on both sides of the abortion.
The order is the result of negotiations that helped pass the health care reform bill in the House of Representatives on Sunday. By agreeing to issue the order, President Obama was able to win the votes of pro-life Democrats, such as Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan and others, giving the Senate’s health care bill the majority it needed in the House to advance to Obama’s desk. He signed the nearly $1 trillion-bill into law on Tuesday.
The executive order reads: “Following the recent enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, it is necessary to establish an adequate enforcement mechanism to ensure that Federal funds are not used for abortion services (except in cases of rape or incest, or when the life of the woman would be endangered), consistent with a longstanding Federal statutory restriction that is commonly known as the Hyde Amendment.”
The order, however, has fallen far short of what pro-life advocates want, which would be the same language put into law. The pro-life woman’s group Susan B. Anthony List on Sunday issued a statement saying that it would cancel the pro-life award that it originally planned to bestow on Stupak this week.
"This Wednesday night is our third annual Campaign for Life Gala, where we were planning to honor Congressman Stupak for his efforts to keep abortion-funding out of health care reform-We will no longer be doing so,” reads a statement from the Susan B. Anthony List, who questions Obama’s willingness to enforce this executive order. “By accepting this deal from the most pro-abortion President in American history, Stupak has not only failed to stand strong for unborn children, but also for his constituents and pro-life voters across the country.”
The pro-life groups points out that an executive order can be rescinded at any time at the President's whim, and the courts have a history of trumping executive orders.
“Most importantly, pro-abortion Representatives have admitted the executive order is meaningless,” reads their statement.
Meanwhile, pro-choice advocates have taken issue with the health care legislation itself, which makes it in convenient, though not impossible, for federal money to fund abortions. Obama’s executive order will only add insult to injury for them.
“Abortion care is basic health care for women and should not be treated differently from any other health care service, yet restrictions like the Hyde Amendment seriously limit women’s access to care,” reads a statement from National Abortion Federation. The statement takes issues with the Hyde Amendment, which is exactly the legislation that Obama evokes in his executive order.
“Although it has been the status quo for more than 30 years, the Hyde Amendment is a harmful, unacceptable policy that discriminates against millions of women who rely on the government for the rest of their health care.”