The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has made available a side-by-side comparison of the language of the Hyde Amendment, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) and the proposed Nelson/Hatch/Casey Amendment. The resource can be found online at: http://www.usccb.org/healthcare/hyde-s-by-s-landscape–AP-Marks.pdf.
The Hyde and FEHBP provisions, which prohibit federal funding of abortion or insurance benefits packages that include abortion, are current law. The Nelson/Hatch/Casey Amendment, which applies the same policy to the Senate health care bill, was tabled by the Senate in a December 8 vote, after many Senators claimed that, by not allowing use of federal funds for health plans that include elective abortions, the amendment marked a radical departure from current law.
On December 13, however, the Senate approved both the Hyde and FEHBP language as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act.
The next day, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, wrote to the Senate: “In that vote, almost all Democrats, including almost every Senator who claimed the Nelson amendment’s policy goes too far, voted in favor of that exact policy. For these Senators voted to retain the actual current language of the Hyde amendment, and of the parallel provision governing abortion in theFederal Employees Health Benefits Program – and that language clearly requires a policyin all other federal health programs that is identical to that of the Nelson amendment.”