Rep. Smith slams administration over 'abortion surcharge' rule

A leading anti-abortion lawmaker slammed the Obama administration this week after it issued regulations that provide for a so-called "abortion surcharge" in health care plans.

The final rules, stemming from the health care overhaul, require plans that cover abortion to collect a separate fee of $1 or more directly from customers. The money would go toward abortion coverage.

The intent of the rule was to make sure taxpayer subsidies do not finance abortions.

But pro-life advocates claimed the surcharge would still compel customers enrolled in many plans to cover the cost.

"Requiring the segregation of funds into allocation accounts -- a mere bookkeeping exercise, is a cheap political trick designed to circumvent longstanding prohibitions on taxpayer funding of abortion," Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., co-chairman of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, said in a statement. "This is an unprecedented break with longstanding federal policy on funding for abortion."

The law stipulates that customers in different markets will still be able to find a plan that doesn't cover abortion. To avoid paying the surcharge, they could just pick one of those plans.

Smith, though, said the policy makes insurance companies obscure information about the surcharge in their benefits materials, which could leave customers in the dark about it.

"Once enrolled, even pro-life Americans will be forced to pay for other people's abortions," he said.