- US Catholic Bishops: Executive Order Deal A Non-Starter:
- In deal with Stupak, White House announces executive order on abortion (Washington Post):
Resolving an impasse with anti-abortion Democrats over the health-care reform legislation, President Obama announced Sunday that he will be issuing an executive order after the bill is passed “that will reaffirm its consistency with longstanding restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortion,” according to a statement from the White House.
“I’m pleased to announce we have an agreement,” Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) said at a news conference announcing the deal.
- “I think we’re witnessing Bart Stupak write the obit for the concept of the “pro-life Democrat” – Kathryn Jean Lopez (National Review).
We’ve consulted with legal experts on the specific idea of resolving the abortion funding problems in the Senate bill through executive order. We know Members have been looking into this in good faith, in the hope of limiting the damage done by abortion provisions in the bill. We believe, however, that it would not be fair to withhold what our conclusion was, as it may help members in assessing the options before them:
“One proposal to address the serious problem in the Senate health care bill on abortion funding, specifically the direct appropriating of new funds that bypass the Hyde amendment, is to have the President issue an executive order against using these funds for abortion. Unfortunately, this proposal does not begin to address the problem, which arises from decades of federal appellate rulings that apply the principles of Roe v. Wade to federal health legislation. According to these rulings, such health legislation creates a statutory requirement for abortion funding, unless Congress clearly forbids such funding. That is why the Hyde amendment was needed in 1976, to stop Medicaid from funding 300,000 abortions a year. The statutory mandate construed by the courts would override any executive order or regulation. This is the unanimous view of our legal advisors and of the experts we have consulted on abortion jurisprudence. Only a change in the law enacted by Congress, not an executive order, can begin to address this very serious problem in the legislation.”
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
Further analysis of the text of the order:
- “So what could the White House possibly give Stupak that would not be thrown out by any federal judge in a second?” Yuval Levin:
Looking at the executive order (which you can read here), the answer is clearly nothing. The executive order quite literally does nothing that the Senate bill does not already do, and it is careful to say as much. It offers a kind of narrative of what champions of the bill claim it does with regard to abortion (claims that Rep. Stupak among others has disputed for months), and then says the executive branch will make various people aware of this understanding of what the law says. It orders no action (only the usual promulgation of regulations the law requires anyway) and offers no interpretation beyond that.
If Rep. Stupak and his fellow pro-life Democrats were not satisfied with the protections against taxpayer funding of abortion in the Senate bill (as they rightly were not), there is simply nothing in the text of the order that should change their minds.
- Executive Order Hijinks Andy McCarthy:
The Susan B. Anthony List observation that EOs can be rescinded at the president’s whim is of course true. This particuar EO is also a nullity — presidents cannot enact laws, the Supreme Court has said they cannot impound funds that Congress allocates, and (as a friend points out) the line-item veto has been held unconstitutional, so they can’t use executive orders to strike provisions in a bill. So this anti-abortion EO is blatant chicanery: if the pro-lifers purport to be satisfied by it, they are participating in a transparent fraud and selling out the pro-life cause.