By Kathleen Gilbert
WASHINGTON, D.C., November 3, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Over 11,000 pro-lifers tuned in last night to an emergency webcast by StopTheAbortionMandate.com, where national pro-life leaders briefed listeners on the extent of the threat to human life posed by the House health care bill.
According to coordinator David Bereit, although news of the webcast went out only 13 hours before it began, 11,243 people joined in. Speakers included Rep. Chris Smith, Charmaine Yoest of Americans United for Life, Kristen Day of Democrats for Life, Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America, Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee, Deirdre McQuade of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' pro-life secretariat, and Christian Medical and Dental Associations CEO Dr. David Stevens.
“You know as well as I, ladies and gentlemen, that killing human babies by abortion is not health care,” said Congressman Smith of New Jersey, the chairman of the House's pro-life caucus. The congressman noted that prohibiting federal funding of abortion has been the status quo “across the board,” including for the Medicaid Program, the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program, SCHIP, the Department of Defense, and even the Veterans Health Administration.
Smith warned that, included in the language of the “manager's amendment” that will be introduced to try to bridge divides in order to pass the bill, “will almost certainly be a new phony compromise that does nothing but put window dressing on the deadly abortion funding already in the bill.”
The leaders once again made clear the bottom line regarding the 1,990-page bill's treatment of abortion funding. The Capps amendment, proposed as a “compromise” measure in July by the radically pro-abortion Rep. Lois Capps, does three key things: it allows abortion-covering insurance plans to receive government subsidies, establishes a government-run insurance plan that must cover abortion, and requires all U.S. regions to offer at least one abortion-covering health plan.
“They are wanting to make it as complicated as possible,” said Americans United for Life President and CEO Charmaine Yoest, “in order to obscure the fact that there is a very simple truth underneath it all: this is a huge expansion in abortion funding and coverage by the federal government, which changes the way that we've approached abortion policy in this country for the last 30 years.”
Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak, whose efforts at a pro-life amendment have posed a significant threat to the bill's abortion expansion, earned praise from the webcast speakers. Stupak has threatened to arrange like-minded Democrats to block passage of the bill's rule – which must be passed before the bill can be considered by the House – unless Democrat leadership allows a vote by the full House on a Hyde-like amendment for the measure. Kristin Day, the president of Democrats for Life, called Stupak a “hero.”
“Pelosi has made it very clear so far that she has no intention whatsoever of allowing a vote on the Stupak/Pitts amendment,” said Rep. Smith, referring to the pro-life amendment. “She wants to keep this issue quiet, and silence the pro-life members of congress who oppose government funding for abortion.”
Douglas Johnson, the legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, focused on the public option and the “powerful legal formula” in the Capps amendment that protects the public option's coverage of abortion. “Will the Obama administration use that sweeping authority if Congress provides it? You bet they will,” he said. “And will they use federal funds to pay for those abortions? Why, certainly they will. Because the federal agency can spend nothing other than federal funds.”
“The claim which has been disseminated by pro-abortion lawmakers and by some of their apologists in the media, that this federal program would pay for abortions but with private funds – although accepted and repeated with a straight face by some gullible journalists – is absurd on its face,” he added. “It's a political hoax.”
The leaders noted that the pro-life lawmakers have a formidable opponent in House Speaker Pelosi, who, according to Rep. Smith, has “no intention whatsoever” of allowing the House an opportunity to vote on the pro-life amendment. “Indeed, Speaker Pelosi believes that if the full House were allowed to vote on the Stupak/Pitts amendment, it would pass, and so she is determined not to allow that vote,” noted Johnson.
Deirdre McQuade from the USCCB affirmed that the U.S bishops are “responding clearly and vigorously” to the health care bill. The USCCB recently began an all-out campaign against the abortion-laden bill, and asked all American U.S. prelates to join the effort to stop the abortion mandate earlier this month.
Dr. David Stevens, CEO of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations, said that the bill's conscience language protecting doctors objecting to abortion was weak, and liable to be scrapped when the House and Senate bills undergo a merging process. “I don't think it's any time to relax or celebrate,” Stevens said.
In addition, Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America noted President Obama's ambiguity on the abortion mandate. Though claiming that he is personally opposed to federal funding for abortion, Wright reports that Obama “has been personally and aggressively lobbying members of Congress to vote for the current bills,” all of which include such funding.
Ultimately, according to the speakers, the pro-life effort against the rules vote – due to occur either today or Wednesday – is the “do or die” moment.
“I believe we can and I believe we will win, but we have to out-think and outwork the abortionists as never before,” said Smith. “Clearly, this is the big one.”