CAPITOL HILL - Pro-life lawmakers and their allies were on Capitol Hill Wednesday, expressing concern over a just-revealed mandate within President Barack Obama's health care law that would still require several health insurance plans to pay a monthly fee for covered abortions.
Earlier this month, the Department of Health and Human Services issued rules for the state exchanges created under the health care law. The regulations included this involuntary surcharge for abortions.
There's also no provision allowing groups to opt-out because of conscience.
Defenders of the health care law say the abortion fee actually lets the administration fulfill its pledge that no federal tax dollars will go to pay for abortions.
Supporters also note that individuals don't have to join an insurance plan that covers abortions.
Still, the Obama administration has included a secrecy clause that allows insurers to not publish abortion coverage. This can make it difficult for people to know in advance the types of services a health care plan will pay for.
"There are millions, perhaps tens of millions of pro-lifers who have no clue what's hidden in this law," Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., warned.
Opponents said the mandate breaks a pledge President Obama made in 2010 to get his health care reform bill passed by Congress.
He signed an executive order pledging no public funding for abortion.
"This is what was warned about when Obamacare was being considered in Congress," Jennifer Marshall, a director for the Center on Religion and Civil Society, said. "The president assured us we wouldn't have to worry about that."
"Well, now we're having to worry about this again," she added. "Time and time again, we are going to see conflicts between Obamacare and conscience."
Critics want the health care plan thrown out, which would likely take voting in a new president and a more pro-life Congress.
"We are going to see mandate after mandate after mandate covering any number of personal and moral health care decisions," Marshall said.
"We have handed the moral compass to bureaucrats to make those decisions," she said.
Some 15 states are already fighting back, forbidding abortion coverage by any health exchange operating in their states.