By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 4, 2009 ( – The Family Research Council (FRC), which has taken a leading role in the Stop the Abortion Mandate pro-life coalition, is drawing ire from pro-abortion and Democrat groups who continue to deny the existence of the taxpayer-funded abortion mandate in President Obama's health care legislation. 

Catholics United claimed FRC “is seriously misinformed” or “intentionally distorting the truth” by decrying the bill's taxpayer-funded abortion mandate, and welcomed a “common ground” amendment by Rep. Lois Capps that pro-lifers say will actually expand abortion.  In addition, NARAL has accused FRC president Tony Perkins of using the abortion mandate campaign as a ruse while secretly attempting to ban all private health insurance from funding abortions.

Catholics United took aim at a recent television advertisement campaign by the FRC, which illustrates the plan's potential to fund abortions while rationing health care to the detriment of needier patients.  (View the FRC video here.) 

“The Family Research Council's efforts are part of a broader 'Stop the Abortion Mandate' campaign that is using abortion scare tactics to turn pro-life voters against health reform,” stated a Catholics United press release. 

Catholics United goes on to argue that, because the health care bill does not contain “any reference to abortion, let alone a mandate for public funding of abortion,” the threat described by the FRC is fabricated. 

“Either the Family Research Council is seriously misinformed, or it is intentionally distorting the truth in order to derail health care reform,” said Chris Korzen, executive director of Catholics United.  Korzen called the campaign against the abortion mandate “unhelpful, untruthful, and not at all pro-life.”

Similarly, NARAL attacked FRC president Tony Perkins for a Politico column decrying the bill's hidden abortion mandate, and accused Perkins of a hidden agenda of abolishing abortion coverage for all private insurance plans.

“Tony Perkins took 729 words to obscure a simple fact: What he and his allies are demanding is a new nationwide abortion ban in the private health insurance market,” Nancy Keenan wrote in a letter to Politico July 29.  “If Perkins succeeds, women who purchase private insurance that now covers abortion services will lose that coverage.”

Because the current health bills do not reference abortion, claimed Keenan, “it's obvious that Perkins is injecting this issue unnecessarily into the health reform debate in hopes that it will bring down the whole endeavor. That's outrageous.”

However, as experts at the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) and pro-life legal groups have stated repeatedly, the danger lies in the bill's exclusion of any mention of abortion.  The groups point to legal precedent concerning Medicaid, which shows that broad terms such as “inpatient services,” “outpatient services” and “physician's services” are liable to be interpreted to include abortion. 

To those who question the scope of such legislation under the Hyde amendment, which prevents Health and Human Services (HHS) monies from funding abortion, NRLC's Douglas Johnson notes that the bill appropriates subsidies independent of the HHS appropriations legislation, and is thus outside the scope of the Hyde amendment.

While both President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have prevaricated in recent weeks on their position regarding abortion funding in the bill, abortion groups have not made a secret of their close communications with the White House on the bill as an opportunity to expand abortion.  Last month, White House Public Engagement director Tina Tchen attended the Planned Parenthood 2009 Organizing and Policy Summit to update the group on progress on Obama's health care reform, and to re-emphasize Obama's commitment to “women's health.” 

Perhaps the clearest indication that the bill will secure the interests of the abortion lobby, however, came with an amendment by Rep. Lois Capps that the House Energy and Commerce Committee incorporated into the bill Friday. 

While the initial language of the amendment bars the “essential benefits package” of the public plan from including abortion, it goes on to state that, “The public health insurance option shall provide coverage for services described in paragraph (4)(B) ['Abortions for which public funding is allowed'].”  In addition, it states that “nothing in this Act shall be construed as preventing the public health insurance option from providing or prohibiting coverage of” abortions for which public funding is prohibited through the Hyde amendment. 

The amendment goes on to require taxpayer subsidies to flow to plans that include abortion, and mandate that every U.S. region have at least one private insurance plan that covers abortion.

Though pro-life leaders are united against the amendment by Capps – who has a 100% approval rating from NARAL – Catholics United praised the language as “positive step toward health care reform that preserves existing policies prohibiting federal funding for abortion services and ensuring conscience protections for health care providers.”

See related coverage:

Pelosi Dodges Questioning on Health Bill's Abortion Mandate 

Obama: “Let's Not Get Distracted” over Taxpayer-Funded Abortion Coverage in Healthcare 

Obama Committed to Women's Health in Health Care Reform: White House Staffer to Planned Parenthood 

65,000 Americans Sign Petition Demanding Congress Exclude Abortion from Health Care Bill 


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