By Calvin Freiburger
The controversial inflation bill passed this weekend by the U.S. Senate has been the subject of intense debate, but headlines and commentary have largely overlooked the news that it expands taxpayer funding of abortion through the so-called Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.
Passed with a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Kamala Harris and no Republican votes in either chamber of Congress, the $430 billion Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has been primarily criticized by voices who expect it to exacerbate inflation rather than alleviate it. But a review of the legislation reveals that its implications for abortion-on-demand are significant, as well.
The bill, which passed thanks in large part to the support of supposed “pro-life” Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, extends through 2025 tax credits for Obamacare premiums that were previously set to expire at the end of 2022, thereby extending subsidies for health insurance plans that cover abortion.
“The ACA was intentionally drafted to avoid application of the Hyde Amendment, and this bill once again expands on the ACA’s violation of the longstanding Hyde principle,” the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List explains. “It expressly permits subsidies for health insurance plans that cover elective abortion, provided an abortion surcharge is paid and certain accounting gimmicks are followed.”
The group notes that as of the 2022 enrollment period, elective abortion coverage is included in 912 plans on the Obamacare exchanges cross 24 states.
“We’re disappointed to see Congress continue to fund abortion through another extension of Obamacare, despite the fact that 58% of Americans oppose the use of their tax dollars to fund abortion,” SBA says.
The bill also provides $80 billion for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to conduct enforcement activities, which is particularly alarming to pro-lifers in light of the agency’s history of discriminating against conservatives under Democrat administrations and the Biden administration’s plans to hire almost 87,000 additional IRS agents, which would more than double the agency’s current workforce.
Last week, House Democrats sent a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig demanding a review of the socially-conservative Family Research Council’s tax status.
“This bill is a give-away to the Democrats’ radical leftist base at the expense of middle-class Americans,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said. “It’s a betrayal of President Biden’s promise to not raise taxes on the middle class. Make no mistake – this bill will hurt America and hardworking Americans at a time when we can least afford it.”
The news comes amid a rapidly changing legal landscape for abortion. Roe v. Wade’s overturn in June sparked the activation of scores of pro-life laws across the country. Abortion giant Planned Parenthood has suspended abortions and/or closed locations in reaction to the ruling, and pro-life attorneys general have declared their intentions to enforce their states’ duly-enacted abortion prohibitions.
But leftists prosecutors in dozens of localities have vowed not to enforce such laws, and pro-abortion activists have refocused efforts on supporting interstate travel for abortion and enshrining “rights” to abortion in state constitutions, ensuring that work and debate will continue over the prospect of banning abortion nationally. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden has called for electing more Democrats to Congress to support codifying a “right” to abortion-on-demand in federal law.
While nothing can be done about the IRA (which, as a budget reconciliation measure, was not subject to the Senate’s 60-vote rule) in the short term, it and Democrats’ abortion codification dreams highlight the stakes of this fall’s midterm congressional elections and the 2024 presidential election. Retaking one or both chambers of Congress would enable Republicans to block similar bills in the future, and retaking the White House would create an opportunity for Obamacare’s abortion spending to be prohibited.