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On March 12, 2012 the Obama administration issued a final rule under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) that, among other things, requires many health insurers to charge all enrollees for elective abortions. This requirement has surprised many people, who thought that they had been assured the new health care reform act would not make taxpayers fund abortions.
In fact, this final rule simply repeats the language of the Act itself (PPACA, §1303 (b)), adding some details already issued as part of guidelines or executive order shortly after the Act was signed into law in March 2010. While some have misunderstood or misrepresented the Act's role in funding abortions, the new rule confirms that analyses by the Catholic bishops' conference were accurate on this point.
Under this Act, millions of American taxpayers will be forced to help support abortion coverage, in two ways:
(1) Through their tax dollars all taxpayers will be forced to subsidize overall health plans that cover elective abortions, contrary to the policy of the Hyde amendment and every other major federal program, and
(2) Many of these Americans will also be forced to pay directly for other people's abortions. Some will say this is technically not "tax funding of abortions," because the required surcharge will be a premium payment rather than a tax payment as such. But what the payment is called is less important than what it actually does. Details follow:
While many private health plans now cover abortions, then, what is new about the Affordable Care Act is this:
 See the final rule, "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; Establishment of Exchanges and Qualified Health Plans; Exchange Standards for Employers," at 77 Fed. Register 18310-18475 (March 27, 2012), available at www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-03-27/pdf/2012-6125.pdf. A pre-publication copy of the rule was released on March 12. Payments for abortion are discussed at pages 18406, 18429-30, and 18472-3.
 For example, see this legal analysis of the Act and President Obama's executive order of March 2010, http://old.usccb.org/healthcare/03-25-10Memo-re-Executive-Order-Final.pdf, and this lengthy analysis of the final Act, pages 3-4, http://old.usccb.org/healthcare/PPACA-Analysis-5-24-10.pdf.
 Here the phrase "elective abortions" refers to abortions beyond those for which direct federal subsidies are allowed under the Hyde amendment and similar longstanding provisions. For many years Hyde has allowed funding of abortions only in the rare cases of danger to the mother's life, or cases of rape or incest. The Hyde amendment also has long forbidden federal tax subsidies for overall health plans that include elective abortions; that part of the Hyde amendment is ignored in PPACA and violated by its policy.
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