This is not a pro / anti health care / abortion thread.
The Senate Health Care Bill includes a provision for Federally funded abortions. Several House Dems have agreed to vote for the HC bill based upon an executive order overriding the abortion provision and outlawing federal funds from being used for abortions.
Does the President have this authority? If so, from where is the authority assigned? Again, if the office does have the authority, couldn't an executive order be used to override any bill passed by Congress?
Executive orders are nothing new. They typically follow legislation passed by congress in order to further the execution of law, or to apply a current law, or to clarify a vague or obscure law. It's usually done when language of a bill that has been passed is easily misunderstood or confusing (happens often actually). So an executive order is issued by the president to clarify the law. It is not used (or at least not supposed to be used) to override the law. In some cases, executive orders have been issued in attempts to override the law. The Supreme Court has shot down a few of them for overstepping the Constitutional bounds of the president's authority.
Authority to do this is cited by Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution, and Article 2 Section 3 of the Constitution, and has been upheld and it's use further defined by the Supreme Court on several occasions.
And this is what Obama intends to do. Both the house and the senate versions of the health care bill prohibit federal funding of abortions. However, the language is vague enough that it's believed the government could effectively fund abortions indirectly
. This loophole is through government subsidies of additional insurance policies to lower income families. So a woman could get a separate insurance policy, qualify (under the terms of the health care bill) for government subsidies to help pay the premiums, then later get knocked up and have an abortion, and insurance cover the bill. That would mean that the government indirectly
funded that abortion by subsidizing those premiums.
So what the executive order from Obama is trying to accomplish is to ensure that insurance policies subsidized by federal dollars is not used to fund abortions. The executive order is trying to clarify the language of the law.
That's how it works, and that's how executive orders typically have worked throughout our history.