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September 23, 2009
Column #1,465
Pro-Life Advocates Fight Obama
By Mike McManus

"Abortion is not health care," asserts Rep. Chris Smith, the Republican Co-Chair for 27 years of the bi-partisan Pro-Life Caucus in Congress.  "The culture of death promoted by Barack Obama and his Cabinet is outrageous and unconscionable. The unborn child and his mother are more at risk now than ever since Roe v. Wade."

Wait a minute…What about the President's pledge in his address to Congress: "Under our plan no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions."

In fact, the health care bills backed by Obama in both the House and Senate, according to National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), "create two big new federal programs that would cover abortion for any reason:" both the government-funded "public option," and a huge new program to subsidize tens of millions to buy health insurance.

Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family Action charges: "Thirty years of pro-life progress could be undone without a debate, under the guise of reforming American health care."

       However, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, told ABC's George Stephanaopoulos that Obama thinks his opposition to public funding of abortions "is a moral issue as well as an economic issue. I think the legislative language will reflect what the President has just said."

       As Governor of Kansas, however, Sebelius was not only pro-abortion, but supported the late- term abortions of babies performed by Dr. George Tiller.

What should be done about the stark contradiction between what Obama is saying - and the stealth bills which avoid overtly pro-abortion language, but which establish abortion as a health care right?

       Pro-life groups are somewhat divided. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) accepts the President's public position at face value and is working with Congressional committees to adopt language to implement what the President claims he supports.

       However, NRLC's Doug Johnson is dismissive: "The latest statements by Mr. Obama and Ms. Sebelius are most likely a continuation of their strategy of denial, evasion and distortion. We say, watch what they do, not what they say." The Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America take a similar position.

       Dr. Richard Doerflinger of the USCCB explains the difference between the Catholic Bishops with other pro-life groups this way: "The Catholic Bishops want to support Obama's health reform, while the Family Research Council, for example, opposes the reform even if the President did satisfy their pro-life concerns."

         However, the pro-life community is united on the need for language like the Hyde Amendment which has been added to HHS appropriations laws to block public funding of abortions since 1977.

       In any case, there is reason for skepticism about the President's opposition to using public funds for abortion.

       First, Obama clearly supported public abortion funding during his campaign.  For example, he told Planned Parenthood: "In my mind, reproductive care is essential care…and so it is at the center and heart of the plan I propose.  It'll be a plan that will provide all essential services, including reproductive services."

       Second, attempts were made to add pro-life amendments to the three bills emerging from the House, including one proposed by Rep. Bart Stupak, a Democrat who co-chairs the Pro-Life Caucus. All were defeated by Democrats with the active support of the White House.

       Stupak vows to demand a vote prohibiting public funding on the House floor, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi opposes him. He confesses, "I don't have much hope this will happen."

       Finally, I asked the White House to provide an example of an amendment to health care legislation in either House or Senate backed by the President that would prohibit public funding of abortion.  My calls were not returned.

The Senate Finance Committee started consideration of health care reform this week.  Among the 564 amendments being considered are several by Sen. Orrin Hatch that would prohibit public funding of abortion or plans that cover abortion. Hatch's proposal would permit insurance providers to offer abortion coverage separate from the subsidized plan.

       If President Obama is sincere in his statement of opposing public funding, all he has to do is indicate that he supports a Hyde-type Amendment in the Senate Finance Committee bill.

       That is unlikely. The consequence? Before the Hyde Amendment, federal funds subsidized 300,000 abortions a year.  At least that number would again be publicly funded.

       If women know abortions are paid for, more will be promiscuous. Out-of-wedlock births, which soared after abortion became legal, are now 40 percent of all births.  In Sweden and other countries subsidizing abortion, more than half of all births are to unwed mothers.

       That's a future America should oppose.

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