Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (VT) has formally introduced his Medicare-for-all legislation in the U.S. Senate. Most Democrats in Congress and most 2020 Democratic presidential candidates are supporting what is being already being dubbed “BernieCare.”
But what is little-known is that the bill subtly incentivizes multiple pro-abortion provisions that should make any pro-life American deeply concerned. Amid the spin, it is difficult to get to the specifics.
Vox, a left-leaning media organization, said Sanders’ new bill would be “the single most ambitious, disruptive piece of social policy ever passed in America. It would abolish the private health insurance industry as we know it and rebuild Medicare from the ground up as a national health system.”
Ronald Reagan once rightly called this kind of legislation “socialized medicine,” and Senator Sanders would likely call that a compliment.
Regardless of how one might feel about the sheer magnitude of the cost—some estimating roughly $32.6 trillion over a decade –there is one significant detail that has routinely gone unmentioned: that embedded in this proposal is a major mechanism for taxpayer-supported abortions.
While the word abortion is nowhere to be found in the bill, it states there would be free and universal coverage of “comprehensive reproductive, maternity, and newborn care” – which the bill’s writers have confirmed includes abortion.
Simply stated, a gargantuan law like this — which would radically change the landscape of our current healthcare system — would also undermine the most pro-life policy ever passed into law by Congress, the Hyde Amendment. That policy prohibits taxpayer-funded abortions through Medicaid. The Hyde Amendment passes every year with bipartisan support, but if BernieCare becomes law, the Hyde policy would be replaced and supplanted.
A phrase in section 701 of the Sanders’ bill states that “any other provision of law in effect on the date of enactment of this Act restricting the use of Federal funds for any reproductive health service shall not apply to monies in the Trust Fund.” This language makes it clear the Hyde Amendment would not apply to the new universal system.
And the bill’s far-reaching pro-abortion ramifications don’t stop there. Another section of the bill would also eliminate any conscience protections the pro-life movement has fought for. A recent study by the Guttmacher Institute found that “only 7% of U.S. obstetrician-gynecologists who work in private practice settings provided abortions in 2013 or 2014.” The study also stated that a “moral or ethical objection” was one of the most common reasons for an office to not perform abortions.
Objecting to giving an abortion would no longer be an option under the Sanders bill, with Section 104 stating that “No person shall, on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex, including sex stereotyping, gender identity, sexual orientation and pregnancy and related medical conditions (including termination of pregnancy), be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination by any participating provider…”
The bill is telling medical care providers upfront that they will have to provide abortions regardless of any conscience protections.
Those who support this legislation commonly refer to the Hill.TV and Reuters polls which found that roughly 70 percent of Americans support Medicare-for-all. However, when you compare this to the latest 2019 Marist poll numbers — which found that 54 percent of Americans oppose taxpayer-funded abortion and 55 percent of Americans believe medical professionals with moral objections should be able to opt out of performing abortions – those previously high poll numbers simply don’t add up. Americans don’t want their tax money to fund the taking of innocent human life.
Likewise, even Americans who say they support abortion overwhelmingly believe it should be limited to the first three months of pregnancy (at most). The new Medicare-for-all proposal purposefully neglects to implement any restrictions on abortion time-frames.
Pro-life Americans would never support Medicare-for-all legislation if they were aware of these types of blatant abortion-fueling provisions. It is important that all Americans know the truth about what is inside this bill regardless of where they stand on healthcare policy itself, because these types of policies are not going away even as they craftily seek to promote the pro-abortion cause.
Timothy S. Goeglein is Vice President for External and Government Relations for Focus on the Family in Washington; Alex Fornwalt is an Associate in the Focus on the Family Washington office.