Thursday, April 20, 2017
The Hyde Amendment at 40 Years and Reproductive Rights in the United States
It mostly prevents abortions in government hospitals, which is why many women turn to private organizations such as Planned Parenthood
On September 30, 1976, in the waning months of the 94th Congress, freshman Representative Henry J. Hyde (R-IL) witnessed his namesake amendment enacted into law via the Departments of Labor and Health, Education, and Welfare Appropriation Act of 1977 (PL 94-439).1 All of one sentence, the amendment stipulated that “None of the [Medicaid] funds contained in this Act shall be used to perform abortions except where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term.”1 For the past 40 years, the Hyde Amendment, an appropriation rider (annually renewed provision), has been unfailingly extended and frequently reworded.2 Moreover, its blueprint for the dissociation of federal funds from abortion services has been progressively applied to multiple public, as well as private, health insurance plans.2 Today, the Hyde Amendment remains controversial, and the subject of opposing partisan calls for its nullification or codification. This Viewpoint traces the evolution of the Hyde Amendment, explores its unremitting expansion, and discusses its likely future.
Efforts to eliminate the funding for abortions by Medicaid date back to the 1973 resolution of Roe v Wade and to the affirmation of abortion as a constitutional right. However, it was only after a pair of false legislative starts that the Hyde Amendment came to pass following a contentious 3-month–long debate that included dozens of compromise proposals. No sooner had the newly enacted amendment been finalized that legal action (McRae v Mathews in 1976) was brought to enjoin its implementation. In that case, grounds for a stay alleged violation of the First Amendment (Establishment Clause) and Fifth Amendment (Due Process Clause) as well as of the federal Medicaid statute. A 4-year legal battle ensued. It was not until June 30, 1980, in Harris v McRae, that the Supreme Court held that the Hyde Amendment did not “violate the Establishment Clause” nor “impinge on the ‘liberty’ protected by the Due Process Clause.”3 The court further held that Medicaid-participating states were not obligated by Title XIX of the Social Security Act to provide funding for abortions “for which federal reimbursement is unavailable under the Hyde Amendment.”3
In the years since the enactment of the Hyde Amendment, its blueprint for the dissociation of federal funds from abortion services has been applied to an increasing number of public health insurance plans other than the Medicaid program.2 In a series of targeted initiatives, the “Hyde” blueprint was extended to appropriation statutes of the Peace Corps, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the Medicare program, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, and the District of Columbia.2 Similar, if permanent, constraints were extended to authorizing statutes of the Department of Defense, the Indian Health Service, the Veterans Health Administration, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.2 In so doing, the Hyde Amendment, now a government-wide imperative, all but eliminated federally funded abortion services. More recently, coincident with the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, the Hyde Amendment was extended to federally subsidized private health insurance plans offered through the exchanges.4 As detailed in Executive Order 13535, federal premium assistance in the form of “tax credits and cost-sharing reduction payments” are to be wholly “segregated” and precluded from underwriting “abortion services.”4 In addition, the Hyde blueprint was emulated by multiple states intent on precluding state funds and private health insurance plans from underwriting abortion services. Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia prohibit the utilization of state funds toward abortion care. Yet other states constrain abortion coverage by private health insurance plans both on and off the online marketplaces.
Unsuccessful legislative endeavors to codify the Hyde Amendment into statutory permanence date back to the Child Health Assurance Act of 1979 (HR 4962). Statutory codification of the Hyde Amendment would have eliminated the need for its annual renewal. Multiple subsequent initiatives met with a similar fate. Recent developments, however, suggest a renewed interest in this legislative goal. In a first, the 2016 Republican Party platform called for “codification of the Hyde Amendment and its application across the government, including Obamacare.”5 The Trump-Pence campaign similarly pledged to “making the Hyde Amendment permanent law to protect taxpayers from having to pay for abortions.”6 It was in this context that the House has recently passed the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017 (HR 7).7 True to its title, the bill, first introduced in 2011, amends Title 1 of the US Code to ensure that “no funds authorized or appropriated by [f]ederal law…shall be expended for any abortion.”7 In addition, the bill amends the Internal Revenue Code to disallow federal premium assistance for the purchase of private health insurance plans that provide “coverage for abortion.”7 Moreover, the bill revises the private health insurance plan disclosure requirements to include the extent of “coverage of abortion and abortion premium surcharges.”7
Attempts to nullify the Hyde Amendment via a dedicated statute have been few and far between. In a sign of renewal, the 2016 Democratic Party platform resolved “to oppose—and seek to overturn—federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment.”8 Hillary R. Clinton, then the Democratic presidential nominee, offered that “laws…like the Hyde Amendment” preclude low-income women from exercising “their full rights.”9 The recently introduced Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman) Act of 2017 (HR 771) is in keeping with this world view.10 First sponsored in 2015, the bill aims “[t]o ensure affordable abortion coverage and care for every woman.”10 The bill further requires that the federal government guarantee coverage for abortion services “in its role as an insurer, employer, or health care provider.”10 In addition, the bill specifies that the “[f]ederal [g]overnment shall not prohibit, restrict, or otherwise inhibit insurance coverage of abortion care by [s]tate or local government or by private health plans.”10
Durable and incessantly expansive, the Hyde Amendment has cast a long shadow over the public and private funding of elective abortions. Still, its codification by a federal statute remains elusive. The latest such effort, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017, could well trigger a Democratic filibuster in the Senate, the outcome of which cannot be reliably forecasted.7 President Trump has indicated that he would sign the bill subject to a bicameral consensus. Nullification via the EACH Woman Act of 2017 is deemed highly improbable given its unlikely passage by the Republican-dominated House.
It would thus appear that the Hyde Amendment is destined to persist for some time as an annually renewed appropriation rider unless codified through No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act or health care reform statutes yet to be enacted. It follows that low-income, reproductive-age women—especially women of color—cannot expect access to abortion services to improve anytime soon. Lamenting this very same reality several decades earlier, Justice Thurgood Marshall offered that “the class burdened by the Hyde Amendment consists of indigent women, a substantial proportion of whom are members of minority races” for whom “denial of a Medicaid-funded abortion is equivalent to denial of legal abortion altogether.”3
JAMA. 2017;317(15):1523-1524. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.2742
NBC Sports: U.S. Flag at Baseball Games Too Political
Too political? Everything is political to the overly sensitive mind of today’s leftist. When the Atlanta Braves unfurled a gigantic flag for the playing of the national anthem, it prompted an ultra sensitive member of the partisan media and his Twitter followers to express a whole host of ridiculous claims.
In a Twitter post this weekend, NBC baseball writer Craig Calcaterra complained that the presentation of Old Glory evoked overly political tones. He and his like-minded comrades used the occasion to attack the flag, the military, President Trump, conservatives and the singing of God Bless America:
“Will you keep politics out of sports, please? We like sports to be politics-free.”
That was the first shot fired in what became a lively Twitter free-for-all between conservative patriots and hate America snowflakes. He also blogged about it here, stating the government had paid pro sports teams for the opportunity to promote patriotism and recruitment (of the people who will protect our freedom). He said his Tweet was an attempt to troll the “stick to sports” crowd. He said flag waving is a political strategy.
“How is the flag political? Matthew Weymar Tweeted to Calcaterra. The NBC writer responded that maybe a flag “in and of itself isn’t always political. A two-acre flag with a military flyover is saying something very specific, however.” Chris McAllister asked Calcaterra what an American flag for Democrats looks like?” Touche!
Rick Krahn commented, “I think there was a time when love for country wasn’t considered political. And a lot of people would like to return to that time.”
Calcaterra said it’s not so easy doing that: “Getting there requires people to accept that those who question our leaders and do not support all military ventures can still be patriots.”
Krahn told Calcaterra that those who oppose “often do so by cutting down country or those who serve it.” Joseph Daher added, “You can disagree with the leaders and still support the soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen who died under that flag.”
Calcaterra countered, “And you can support them in ways other than flying a two-acre flag, yet we routinely fail to.” He attached a photo of veterans protesting at a VA hospital along with the link to a story in The Nation about a lack of VA resources for vets. Daher called him out by asking: “Baseball shouldn’t have a flag because the VA is in shambles?”
Additionally, Calcaterra said “if you criticize their (sports teams’) use of the military you’re called unpatriotic.” And by not standing for the singing of God Bless America, Calcaterra dialed up his inner snowflake and said the reactions around him made him feel bad.
Mark Simon hit the NBC lib right between the eyes: “This is a left-wing screed. It is not about patriotism, rather what offends your politics.” Ryan Kantor explained to Calcaterra how his complaints are viewed: “You should applaud apolitical patriotism or everyone will mistake your criticisms for anti-American rhetoric.” Cameron Darnell argued, “People die for our rights in this country, so yeah we’re gonna layout the flag. We’re also gonna have a military.”
Calcaterra said, “Wrapping oneself in the flag is a common means of achieving political ends.” That may be true for the rainbow flag.
Calcaterra complained that his criticisms “in this realm will always, always be considered anti-American regardless of what else I say.” Without citing examples, he added: “Conspicuous patriotism is often used as a cudgel to silence/shame those who question our leaders.”
Using that logic, Krahn schooled Calcaterra by saying it was unfair to label criticisms of Obama as racism. “Cuts both ways.”
Additional Tweets further demonstrated the Hate America mentality. Mark Rittle wrote, “I’d like to attend sporting events without romanticizing the war machine.” And Shawn Drotar griped that at the average NFL game “jingoism comes with the ticket.”
What are we left to assume from Calcaterra’s remarks? For one, if we removed everything that offends leftists in the public square, it would be a bland, barren scene. Secondly, many in the partisan media are perfectly fine with organizations pushing far Left politics in our faces. Like withdrawing sports events due to religious freedom laws and with LGBT promotions at their games.
As Gary Deaton tweeted to Calcaterra, “stick to sports.”
Worse Than Racists
By Walter E. Williams
As a group, black Americans have made the greatest gains — over some of the highest hurdles and in a very short span of time — of any racial group in mankind's history. What's the evidence? If one totaled up the earnings of black Americans and considered us as a separate nation with our own gross domestic product, we would rank among the 20 richest nations. It was a black American, Gen. Colin Powell, who once headed the world's mightiest military. Black Americans are among the world's most famous personalities, and a few are among the world's richest people.
The significance of these and other achievements is that at the end of the Civil War, neither a slave nor a slave owner would have believed such progress would be possible in a little over a century — if ever. As such, it speaks to the intestinal fortitude of a people. Just as importantly, it speaks to the greatness of a nation in which such gains were possible. Nowhere else on the face of the earth would such progress be possible except in the United States of America. The big and thorny issue that confronts our nation is how these gains can be extended to the one-third or more of the black population for whom they have proved elusive.
A major part of the solution should be the elimination of public and private policy that rewards inferiority and irresponsibility. Chief among the policies that reward inferiority and irresponsibility is the welfare state. When some people know that they can have children out of wedlock, drop out of school and refuse employment and suffer little consequence, one should not be surprised to see the growth of such behavior. The poverty rate among blacks is about 30 percent. It's seen as politically correct to blame today's poverty on racial discrimination, but that's nonsense. Why? The poverty rate among black intact husband-and-wife families has been in the single digits for more than two decades. Does one want to argue that racists discriminate against female-headed families but not husband-and-wife families?
Education is one of the ways out of poverty, but stupid political correctness stands in the way for many blacks. For example, a few years ago, a white Charleston, South Carolina, teacher frequently complained of black students calling her a white b——, white m——f——, white c— and white ho. School officials told her that racially charged profanity was simply part of the students' culture and that if she couldn't handle it, she was in the wrong school. The teacher brought a harassment suit, and the school district settled out of court for $200,000.
To suggest that such disrespectful and violent behavior, though it's observed in many predominantly black schools, is part of black culture is an insulting lie. Worse than that is the fact that such destructive behavior and lack of respect for authority is rewarded. We can see some of the results by visiting some city public schools where violence, disorder and disrespect is the order of the day.
Many whites are ashamed and saddened by our history of slavery, Jim Crow and gross racial discrimination. As a result, they often hold blacks accountable to standards and conduct they would never accept from whites. A recent example is black students at colleges such as NYU, UC Berkeley, UCLA and Oberlin demanding racially segregated housing. Spineless college administrators have caved to their demands. These administrators would never even listen to a group of white students demanding white-only housing accommodations. These administrators and other guilt-ridden whites have one standard of conduct for whites and a lower standard for blacks.
Black people can be thankful that racist forms of double standards and public and private policies rewarding inferiority and irresponsibility were not broadly accepted during the 1920s, '30s, '40s and '50s. There would not have been the kind of intellectual excellence and spiritual courage that created the world's most successful civil rights movement.
Marine Le Pen vows to suspend immigration, and 'protect' voters from 'savage globalisation' as she declares mass-migration 'a tragedy for France' ahead of Sunday's elections
Marine Le Pen vowed to reinstate France's borders and declared mass-migration as 'a tragedy' for her country as she savaged the EU during a rally on Tuesday.
The far-right National Front candidate also pledged to suspend all immigration if she wins the presidency, saying her rivals support 'savage globalisation'.
Chants of 'en est chez nous' - 'this is our country' - broke out among the 5,000 supporters who had turned out to hear her speak in Paris ahead of Sunday's first round of voting.
However, polls have been tightening in recent days, with hard-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon now within the margin of error, along with Francois Fillon, the former frontrunner whose campaign has been dogged by allegations of corruption.
Le Pen told supporters: 'I will protect you. My first measure as president will be to reinstate France's borders.
'The choice on Sunday is simple. It is a choice between a France that is rising again and a France that is sinking.
Referring to her supporters as 'patriots', she added: 'Fight for victory, until the very last minute. 'If every patriot can this week convince just one abstentionist, just one undecided voter, we are sure to win!
Getting the crowd to boo the EU and its border-free Schengen area, Le Pen said: 'Mass immigration is not an opportunity for France, it's a tragedy for France.'
Promising to immediately impose a moratorium on immigration, she said: 'The French sometimes have fewer rights than foreigners - even illegal ones.'
Earlier on Tuesday Scuffles broke out between police and about 70 protesters outside the hall where Le Pen was addressing supporters.
Police fired teargas at the protesters, who threw rocks and chunks of wood as they tried to get closer to the Zenith concert hall.
French voters go to the polls on Sunday in the first round of the most unpredictable presidential election in decades.
Opinion polls have for months shown Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron qualifying for the May 7 run-off, but the gap with conservative Francois Fillon and far-leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon has been tightening.
Melenchon, enjoying a late poll surge, campaigned on a barge floating through the canals of Paris and Fillon took his tough-on-security campaign to the southern French city of Nice, which was scarred by a deadly attack last year that killed 86 people.
The race is being watched internationally as an important gauge of populist sentiment, and the outcome is increasingly uncertain just six days before Sunday's first round vote.
Le Pen's nationalist rhetoric and Melenchon's anti-globalisation campaign have resonated with French voters sick of the status quo.
Macron, meanwhile, is painting himself as an anti-establishment figure seeking to bury the traditional left-right spectrum that has governed France for decades.
The top two vote-getters Sunday of the 11 candidates on the ballot advance to the May 7 presidential runoff.
The latest polls suggest that Le Pen, Macron, Melenchon and Fillon all have a chance of reaching the runoff - and as many as a third of voters remain undecided.
Macron, a former investment banker well connected in the business world, held a rally in Paris on Monday attended by 20,000 people, according to organizers.
Advocating for strong pro-European views, he has pledged to represent an 'open, confident, winning France' in contrast with far-right and far-left rivals.
Without naming them, he said Le Pen and Melenchon want to isolate France form the rest of the world. 'We feel everywhere the temptation of barbarism ready to surge in other guises ... No, we will not let them do it,' he said.
He also made an implicit reference to Fillon by suggesting some are seeking the presidency to get judicial immunity.
Fillon's austerity-focused campaign has been damaged by accusations that he misused taxpayer money to pay his wife and children for government jobs that they allegedly did not perform. French investigators are probing the case.
Fillon denies wrongdoing and is focusing instead on security issues that resonate with many voters after two years of deadly attacks across the country. French voters will cast their ballots under a state of emergency that's been repeatedly extended as new violence has hit.
After Macron, Le Pen is holding her last big rally in the Paris region later Monday.
Meanwhile, Melenchon, speaking on a river boat in Pantin, in the Paris suburbs, said he doesn't want France to exit the European Union but would be ready to do it if other member states don't accept negotiations to reform the 28-nation bloc.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.