4 reasons pro-lifers are unconvinced
Posted on Sep 10, 2009 | by Michael Foust
WASHINGTON (BP)--President Obama's pledge Wednesday to Congress and the nation that "no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions" under his health care plan was immediately met by skepticism from pro-lifers.
Following are four reasons why social conservatives are unconvinced of Obama's assertion during his Sept. 9 address to Congress:
1) The leading House health care proposal, H.R. 3200, would allow elective abortions. Both sides agree on that point; the divide comes over the abortion funding and whether it is considered federal money. Under an amendment to H.R. 3200 known as the Capps amendment, abortions could be funded in a government-run public option through enrollees' premiums, which the amendment does not consider to be public funds. The amendment was proposed as a compromise by Rep. Lois Capps, D.-Calif., who is pro-choice. Pro-lifers, though, mostly voted in bloc against it. Conservatives consider the amendment's logic to be nonsense. "You have a federal agency collecting these monies, getting bills from the abortionists and sending checks to the abortionists drawn on a federal account," National Right to Life's Douglas Johnson told Baptist Press. "... The federal government is running the whole scheme from start to finish." H.R. 3200 also would allow private plans that receive federal subsidies to cover abortions -- as long as those companies segregate their money internally and don't use the federal money for the abortions.
2) Amendments were defeated in the House and Senate that would have explicitly prohibited abortion coverage in the health care plan. Two such amendments were offered and defeated in late July in the House Energy and Commerce Committee by Reps. Bart Stupak, D.-Mich., and Joe Pitts, R.-Pa. One would have prohibited abortion from being required as part of a basic health benefits package in a public option and private plans. The other would have barred federal funds from paying for an abortion or covering any part of a health plan that includes coverage of abortion.
3) Obama, as a candidate, supported incorporating public funding of abortion in a health care plan. He told Planned Parenthood during a 2007 speech that "reproductive care is essential care. It is basic care. And so it is at the center, the heart of the [health care] plan that I propose." He also said during the same speech, "We also will subsidize those who prefer to stay in the private insurance market, except the insurers are going to have to abide by the same rules in terms of providing comprehensive care, including reproductive care."
4) Independent analysts have criticized Obama's use of the facts on the issue. The New York Times, in a Sept. 10 story examining his speech, wrote, "[H]is assertion that 'no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions' is not ... clear-cut." It asserted, regarding the proposal to pay for abortions only out of premium money, "[I]n practice, the public and private money would all go into the same pot, and the source of money for any single procedure is largely a technicality." Likewise, Time magazine, in an Aug. 24 article, took Obama to task for a comment he made that there would be no government funding of abortion. The comment, Time said, "does not tell the whole story." Time wrote, "The health-care reform proposed by House Democrats, if enacted, would in fact mark a significant change in the Federal Government's role in the financing of abortions." Similarly, the non-partisan FactCheck.org, run by the Annenberg Public Policy Center, concluded, "As for the House bill as it stands now, it's a matter of fact that it would allow both a 'public plan' and newly subsidized private plans to cover all abortions." Pro-lifers fear that if abortions are publicly funded and thus easier to obtain, the number of abortions will increase.
Michael Foust is an assistant editor of Baptist Press.