By Michael Foust
Sep 10, 2009
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.
Unfortunately for Catholics, our bishops aren't that smart. This comes from the USCCB website;
WASHINGTON—Calling it an important contribution to a crucial national debate, officials speaking on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops welcomed President Obama's September 9 address on health care reform, particularly his statements regarding abortion and the uninsured.
"We agree that 'no one should go broke because they get sick,'" said Kathy Saile, Director of Domestic Social Development at the USCCB. "That's why the U.S. Bishops have worked for decades for decent health care for all. The Catholic Church provides health care for millions, purchases health care, picks up the pieces of a failing health system, and has a long tradition of teaching on ethics in health care. Health care reform that respects the life and dignity of all is a moral imperative and urgent national priority. We welcome the President's speech as an important contribution to this essential national debate and task."
"We especially welcome the President's commitment to exclude federal funding of abortion, and to maintain existing federal laws protecting conscience rights in health care," said Richard Doerflinger, Associate Director of Pro-Life Activities at the USCCB. "We believe that incorporating essential and longstanding federal laws on these issues into any new proposal will strengthen support for health care reform. We will work with Congress and the Administration to ensure that these protections are clearly reflected in new legislation, so no one is required to pay for or take part in abortion as a result of health care reform."
"We agree with the President that there are details that need to be ironed out," said Saile. "And with his address last night, we see the opportunity to work towards a truly universal health policy with respect for human life and dignity, access for all with a special concern for the poor, and inclusion of legal immigrants. We also see the possibility of meeting the bishops' goal to pursue the common good and preserve pluralism, including freedom of conscience and a variety of options, and restraining costs and applying them equitably across the spectrum of payers."
I wonder just when the bishops of the Catholic Church here in the USA will take their heads out of their asses and start seeing the world around them.