Today’s Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act was certainly disappointing for people in the pro-life movement. However, short of the law being struck down in full, many of the problems that pro-lifers have with it would have likely remained. Pro-lifers are rightfully concerned about taxpayer subsidies for health-insurance plans that cover abortion. They have concerns about conscience protections for both health-care providers and employers. And if abortion is deemed a federal health benefit, there are concerns that this could invalidate or weaken some state-level pro-life laws.
Today’s ruling included a few silver linings for pro-lifers:
1. One of the main concerns that pro-lifers had about Obamacare is that it would make it far easier for the federal government to regulate health-insurance plans. Even worse, these regulations would not be decided through the democratic process, but rather by administrative fiat. Since any health-insurance mandates can now be deemed tax increases — imposing additional mandates becomes much more difficult politically.
2. The Supreme Court set limits on the requirement that states expand their Medicaid programs. The long-term implications of this aspect of the ruling are uncertain. However, if states enact their own conscience protections or their own limits on abortion funding, this ruling likely makes it much more difficult for the federal government to retaliate by withholding Medicaid funding.
3. This decision may actually make it easier to prevent federal funding of abortion in the future. Remember, the mandate has been ruled a tax, and senators cannot filibuster a bill passed under “budget reconciliation.” As such, a future Senate would need just 51 votes (50 with a Republican vice president) to ban Obamacare from funding insurance plans that include abortion. Due to the interlocking nature of the various funding streams and mandates, this might have the implication of preventing abortion coverage in a vast majority of private health-insurance plans.
4. Politically, the ground has shifted to terms very favorable to the pro-life movement. Taxpayer funding of abortion has never been popular with the American people. Today the pro-life movement can call Obamacare what it is: A record breaking tax increase on low- and middle-income earners to subsidize Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry.