WASHINGTON, March 24 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama signed an executive order Wednesday ensuring federal funding restrictions for abortions aren't superseded by the new healthcare law.
The president -- joined by 14 anti-abortion Democratic House members -- signed the order in the Oval Office out of the public eye. The members attending the signing were concerned the healthcare measure signed into law Tuesday would loosen current restrictions on federal funding of abortions, now limited to rape, incest or to save the mother's life.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act "maintains current Hyde Amendment restrictions governing abortion policy and extends those restrictions to the newly created health insurance exchanges," the executive order read.
"The Act specifically prohibits the use of tax credits and cost-sharing reduction payments to pay for abortion services (except in cases of rape or incest, or when the life of the woman would be endangered) in the health insurance exchanges that will be operational in 2014," the order said.
The new healthcare law includes strict payment and accounting requirements to segregate federal funds and ensure they are not used for abortion services except as already allowed by law.
In the executive order, Obama directed the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Health and Human Services to develop a model set of segregation guidelines for state health insurance commissioners to follow when determining whether exchange plans are complying with the act's segregation requirement. The guidelines are to be submitted within 180 days of the order.