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Anti-abortion groups push for stronger 'pro-life' restrictions in ObamaCare funding bill

Anti-abortion groups push for stronger 'pro-life' restrictions in ObamaCare funding bill
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Anti-abortion groups are sounding the alarm over an ObamaCare funding bill, urging lawmakers to vote against it because they say it doesn't contain "pro-life" protections. 

A bill sponsored by Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOvernight Health Care — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Senate blocks Dem measure on short-term health plans | Trump signs bill banning drug price 'gag clauses' | DOJ approves Aetna-CVS merger | Juul ramps up lobbying Trump signs bills banning drug pricing 'gag clauses' Senate defeats measure to overturn Trump expansion of non-ObamaCare plans MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care: House passes funding bill | Congress gets deal on opioids package | 80K people died in US from flu last winter Wilkie vows no 'inappropriate influence' at VA Dems push back on using federal funds to arm teachers MORE (D-Wash.) would fund the key ObamaCare insurer payments called cost-sharing reductions (CSRs), which reimburse insurers for giving discounted deductibles and copays to low-income patients. 

But influential anti-abortion groups like the Susan B. Anthony List and National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) say the bill shouldn't be passed unless it is amended to stipulate that the funding can't go toward plans that cover abortion. 

Such restrictions already exist in Medicaid and other programs under the Department of Health and Human Services through the Hyde Amendment, which bars the use of federal funds to pay for abortion, with some exceptions. 

"Any member voting for the Alexander-Murray proposal, or other ObamaCare stabilization legislation not covered by the Hyde amendment, would not only be voting to sustain what many have called the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade, but would also be voting to directly appropriate taxpayer dollars for insurance that includes abortion," Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, wrote in a letter to members of Congress this week. 

The Affordable Care Act says that CSRs can't be used for plans that cover abortions, but pro-life groups have long argued that the language isn't sufficient.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Health Care — Presented by Purdue Pharma — Trump says GOP will support pre-existing condition protections | McConnell defends ObamaCare lawsuit | Dems raise new questions for HHS on child separations Poll finds Dems prioritize health care, GOP picks lower taxes when it's time to vote The Hill's 12:30 Report — Mnuchin won't attend Saudi conference | Pompeo advises giving Saudis 'few more days' to investigate | Trump threatens military action over caravan MORE has said he supports passing the Alexander-Murray bill before the end of the year. He made the promise to Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns Susan Collins and the mob mentality Graham: I hope Dems 'get their ass kicked' for conduct around Kavanaugh MORE (R-Maine), who asked for its passage in exchange for her vote on the GOP's tax bill. 

Collins has said she expects Alexander-Murray to be attached to the year-end spending deal.  

But there's concern that the Senate will try to jam the House with the spending bill, and with it, the Alexander-Murray bill with no "pro-life" protections. 

That could pose a problem because Republicans are facing increased pressure from anti-abortion groups. 

"Simply put, it is a stone-cold non-starter without the Hyde language as all conservatives will feel pressure to oppose," said a House GOP Appropriations aide.

"Leadership might be able to peel off some opposition by adding the language." 

NRLC went a step further and said Hyde protections must be added to a reinsurance bill sponsored by Collins and Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonElection Countdown: Florida Senate fight resumes after hurricane | Cruz softens ObamaCare attacks | GOP worries Trump will lose suburban women | Latest Senate polls | Rep. Dave Brat gets Trump's 'total endorsement' | Dem candidates raise record B Florida extending early voting in counties hit by hurricane Poll:Majority of voters say health care 'very important' to them in midterms MORE (D-Fla.) 

NRLC warns that votes for Alexander-Murray and Collins-Nelson, or any appropriations measure that contains the bills, will be included in its scorecard of key "right-to-life" votes of the 115th Congress. 

"We strongly urge Congress not to continue this unprotected appropriation of money to prop up plans that cover abortion," the group wrote in a letter to lawmakers. 

"NRLC respectfully urges you to vote to reject the Alexander-Murray and Collins-Nelson proposals unless they are amended to exclude payments to cover abortion on demand." 

The Family Research Council also said it would score against the spending deal if Alexander-Murray and Collins-Nelson weren't amended to include the funding restrictions. 

They note that a similar bill introduced earlier this year from Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchGOP leaders hesitant to challenge Trump on Saudi Arabia Congress should work with Trump and not 'cowboy' on Saudi Arabia, says GOP senator US to open trade talks with Japan, EU, UK MORE (R-Utah) and Rep. Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyOvernight Health Care — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Some ObamaCare premiums to decrease next year | Sanders hits back at Trump over 'Medicare for all' | Panel to investigate rising maternal mortality rates House committee to investigate rising maternal mortality rates How the Trump tax law passed: The final stretch MORE (R-Texas) would fund the CSRs "while also providing Hyde-like pro-life protections that restrict these funds from being used to subsidize plans that cover elective abortion."