By Kathleen Gilbert
WASHINGTON, D.C., August 20, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In a conference call with faith leaders yesterday, President Obama said it was a "fabrication" and "untrue" that his health care legislation involved "government funding of abortions." In a call during which the president used multiple Biblical references to criticize opponents of his healthcare plan, the president said, "You've heard that this is all going to mean government funding of abortion. Not true. These are all fabrications that have been put out there in order to discourage people from meeting what I consider to be a core ethical and moral obligation - and that is that we look out for one another, that I am my brother's keeper and I am my sister's keeper."
Obama charged that there are some who are "bearing false witness" by spreading "misinformation" about his healthcare plan.
But pro-life leaders immediately responded to the president's statement, pointing out that it simply does not align with the facts of the House bill's content. National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) legislative director Douglas Johnson charged that in his remarks Obama "brazenly misrepresented the abortion-related component of the health care legislation that his congressional allies and staff have crafted."
In an amendment offered by Rep. Lois Capps in the House Energy and Commerce Committee on July 30, the House version of the bill now explicitly calls for the funding of abortion in the government plan. The language also calls for taxpayer subsidies of plans that cover abortions.
The amendment, however, sets up an accounting scheme that ostensibly does not allow for public monies to fund the abortion procedure - a tactic that critics have said is a laughable attempt to address the problem of taxpayer funding of abortion. Pro-life leaders have pointed out that under the plan the funds would be fungible, freeing up other funds to go to abortions. This departs from longstanding federal policy against funding plans that include abortion, including the Federal Employee Health Benefits plan and Medicaid.
Associated Press writer Ricardo Alonzo-Zalvidar confirmed in an August report that the government sponsored plan would "recast federal policy" on abortion by opening monies appropriated by the government to the procedure. As many critics of the bill allege, the new scheme - which would inflict a tax penalty on individuals who do not buy insurance - forces many otherwise unwilling individuals to pay for abortions under the government plan.
NRLC's Douglas Johnson noted that "Obama apparently seeks to hide behind a technical distinction between tax funds and government- collected premiums." "But these are merely two types of public funds, collected and spent by government agencies," he said.
"The Obama-backed legislation makes it explicitly clear that no citizen would be allowed to enroll in the government plan unless he or she is willing to give the federal agency an extra amount calculated to cover the cost of all elective abortions - this would not be optional.
"The abortionists would bill the federal government and would be paid by the federal government. These are public funds, and this is government funding of abortion."
In a July 2007 speech at a Planned Parenthood fundraiser, Obama firmly pledged that his plans for a government-run insurance option would cover abortions as "essential" care, and that abortion was "at the heart, and at the center of" his health care reform.
Since then, Obama has largely been silent on abortion's role in his health proposal. When asked by CBS's Katie Couric in July whether he favored a government option that covered abortions, Obama dismissed the question, saying that concerned citizens should not "micromanage what benefits are covered."
"Rather than wade into that issue at this point, I think that it's appropriate for us to figure out how to just deliver on the cost savings, and not get distracted by the abortion debate at this station," he said.
But pro-life advocates have refused to remain silent on the bill's capacity to vastly expand abortion, and point out that Planned Parenthood has boasted of personal meetings with White House staff on securing abortion coverage and subsidies to abortion providers as "essential community providers." Family Research Council president Tony Perkins has called the legislation "the Planned Parenthood bailout bill."
Dozens of amendments offered in committee to halt the abortion expansion have failed.
"President Obama stated that abortion funding would not be included in health care reform," said David Bereit, the national director for 40 Days for Life. "Talk's cheap - is the president willing to include language in any health care reform proposal or bill that would explicitly exclude funding of abortion coverage?"
Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser surmised: "Public support for abortion is on decline, and the President knows that openly advancing an abortion mandate in health care reform is unpopular with the American people. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Obama's statements conflict with the proposed legislation.
"Americans demand an explicit exclusion of abortion coverage, not more obfuscation and confusion from the President and his allies."
See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
Planned Parenthood Continues Boasting Close Ties with White House on Obamacare Bill
AP Confirms Health Bill Radically Opens Federal Funds to Abortion
Obama: "Let's Not Get Distracted" over Taxpayer-Funded Abortion Coverage in Healthcare
Over 36,000 Participate in Webcast to Stop the Abortion Mandate in Obama Healthcare