By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 26, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Nineteen pro-life Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday issued a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urging that the president’s healthcare reform package not place unborn children in more danger by including abortion in the federal healthcare plan.

"As the debate on health care reform continues and legislation is produced, it is imperative that the issue of abortion not be overlooked," wrote the lawmakers.  "Plans to mandate coverage for abortions, either directly or indirectly is [sic] unacceptable."

The congressmen said that they would only accept a healthcare plan that "explicitly excludes" abortion.  They said such restrictions would "save lives," citing a Guttmacher Institute survey that showed banning taxpayer-funded abortion prevents about one third of abortions that would otherwise occur.

The letter was signed by Reps. Dan Boren (D-OK); Bart Stupak (D-MI); Colin Peterson (D-MN); Tim Holden (D-PA); Travis Childers (D-MS); Lincoln Davis (D-TN); Heath Shuler (D-NC) Solomon Ortiz (D-TX); Mike McIntyre (D-NC); Jerry Costello (D-IL); Gene Taylor (D-MS); James Oberstar (D-MN); Bobby Bright (D-AL); Steve Driehaus (D-OH); Marcy Kaptur (D-OH); Charlie Melancon (D-LA); John Murtha (D-PA); Paul Kanjorski (D-PA); and Kathleen Dahlkemper (D-PA).

The full text of the letter is as follows:

June 25, 2009

Dear Honorable Pelosi:

As the debate on health care reform continues and legislation is produced, it is imperative that the issue of abortion not be overlooked.  Plans to mandate coverage for abortions, either directly or indirectly is unacceptable.

We believe in a culture that supports and respects the right to life and is dedicated to the protection and preservation of families.  Therefore, we cannot support any health care reform proposal unless it explicitly excludes abortion from the scope of any government-defined or subsidized health insurance plan.  We believe that a government-defined or subsidized health insurance plan, should not be used to fund abortion.

Furthermore, we want to ensure that the Health Benefits Advisory Committee cannot recommend abortion services be included under covered benefits or as part of a benefits package.  Without an explicit exclusion, abortion could be included in a government subsidized health care plan under general health care.  The health care reform package produced by Congress will be landmark, and with legislation as important as this, abortion must be addressed clearly in the bill text. 

Furthermore, funding restrictions save lives by reducing the number of abortions.  The Guttmacher Policy Review, a leading pro-choice research organization noted "that about one third of women who would have had an abortion if support were available carried their pregnancies to term when the abortion fund was unavailable."

Thank you for taking the time to consider our request.  By ensuring that abortions are not funded through any health care reform package, we willt ake this controversial issue off the table so that Congress can focus on crafting a broadly-supported health care reform bill.

Respectfully yours,
[undersigned]