Sen. Hutchison: ‘I Do Not Think’ it is Morally Right to Take Tax Money from Pro-Life Americans and Give it to Insurance Plans That Cover Abortion

By Karen Schuberg | December 16, 2009 | 6:20 PM EST

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas). (AP photo)

Washington ( – Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) said she does "not think it is morally right” to take taxpayer money from pro-life Americans to pay for health insurance plans that cover abortion.
As currently written, the Senate health-care bill mandates that at least one health insurance plan available through the government exchange where people getting tax subsidies to buy health insurance will be required to buy insurance must provide abortion coverage. asked Hutchison: “Do you think it is morally right to take tax money from pro-life Americans and give it to insurance plans that in part cover abortion?”
Sen. Hutchison said: “I do not think that it is morally right. I think that we should not allow federal funding of abortion, and I think we need to assure that in this bill that we don’t do that. Since 1977, on a bipartisan basis, we have kept our federal taxpayers from subsidizing abortion because so many people feel strongly about that issue on moral grounds, so I hope that we can keep that in the law.”
The Senate health care plan, the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” includes a section headlined “Assured Availability of Varied Coverage Through Exchanges.” In this section, on p. 120 of the 2,074-page legislation, it requires the secretary of Health and Human Services to ensure that at least one health insurance plan offered in government-regulated insurance exchanges -- where people will be able to purchase health insurance using government subsidies -- must provide coverage of abortion.

The secretary also must make certain that at least one plan available in the exchanges does not cover abortions.

The relevant language says: “The Secretary shall assure that with respect to qualified health plans offered in any Exchange established pursuant to this title -- (I) there is at least one such plan that provides coverage of services described in clauses (i) and (ii) of subparagraph (B); and (II) there is at least one such plan that does not provide coverage of services described in subparagraph (B)(i)."

The clause “(i)” of “subparagraph (B)” referred to in this passage defines those types of abortions currently banned from receiving federal funding under the Hyde Amendment. The Hyde Amendment bans federal funding for all abortions except those done in cases of rape, incest and a threat to the life of the mother. 

The language of the Senate’s health care bill mandates that at least one health insurance plan available to people buying health insurance with federal subsidies cover those abortions that are currently prohibited from receiving federal funding under the Hyde Amendment.

On Tuesday, Dec. 8, the Senate voted 54-45 to table -- to end consideration of and thus kill -- an amendment by Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) that would have essentially applied the Hyde Amendment language to the Senate health care bill. And, like the amendment by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) in the House of Representatives, which passed in that chamber, Nelson’s proposal would have explicitly prohibited any federal money from paying for any part of a health insurance plan that covers abortion.

Seven Democrats and 38 Republicans voted against tabling Nelson’s amendment while 52 Democrats and two Republicans voted for tabling the amendment and thus ending it. 

Hutchison voted against tabling the Nelson amendment.