New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said that he would file a lawsuit to protect women's abortion rights if the "American Health Care Act" passed the Senate after having passed the House of Representatives Thursday. He explained why he believed the law is unconstitutional under its current form to Erin Burnett on CNN Friday.
"I hope the Senate will stop it, it's bad public policy," Schneiderman said. "It doesn't protect people with pre-existing conditions, it'll cost millions of people healthcare."
"But, if they pass the bill in the form the House passed it," he said, "it is unconstitutional. It includes an unconstitutional attack on women's rights to reproductive health services, including abortion."
"It's drafted in a way, in a tricky way," he added, "it tries to wipe out Planned Parenthood. It goes after, states' funded prohibited entities with federal Medicaid funds, but prohibited entity is defined in a away that the only thing in the country that qualifies is Planned Parenthood. So it's an effort to kill off Planned Parenthood, which would impose an undue burden on women's constitutionally protected rights to abortion."
"Because of course," Burnett interrupted, "currently, according to the Supreme Court, it is still the law of the land."
"It is still a constitutional right," he agreed, "and it would also say that you can't be a qualified health plan if you provided certain constitutionally protected abortion services. If you can't be a qualified health plan, you're off the health care exchanges, you can't qualify for subsidies."
"So, all of this offends the Constitution in two ways," he explained. "You can't impose an undue burden on a constitutionally protected right and clearly there are areas of the country where the only provider is Planned Parenthood, and this would impose an undue burden on women in that area."
"And you can't impose unconstitutional conditions on a state," he continued. "You can't require a state to stop funding breast cancer screenings because they also fund a constitutionally protected right with separate funds. Federal funds aren't used for abortions now. This is an effort to cut off funding for breast cancer screenings, education on sexually transmitted disease, it imposes an undue burden on women's constitutional rights."
Pro-life advocates have quibbled with the statement from abortion supporters that the federal government doesn't currently fund abortions. They point out that Planned Parenthood still receives money that is not "flagged" for abortions, but can easily be used to indirectly support the practice.
Planned Parenthood supporters and abortion advocates are planning to protest for the loss of funding under the AHCA legislation.