By Patrick B. Craine

August 21, 2009 ( – Last Wednesday, President Barack Obama responded to claims that his health care legislation would institute government funding of abortion by calling those claims “fabrications.”  In an article released on Friday, however,, an organization that analyzes the accuracy of statements made by American political leaders, confirmed the assertion of pro-life organizations that the legislation would indeed open the door to government-funded abortion.

In the article, “Abortion: Which Side Is Fabricating?,” FactCheck director Brooks Jackson carefully distinguishes how abortion is included in the bill.  “The truth is that bills now before Congress don't require federal money to be used for supporting abortion coverage,” he says.  “So the president is right to that limited extent. But it's equally true that House and Senate legislation would allow a new 'public' insurance plan to cover abortions, despite language added to the House bill that technically forbids using public funds to pay for them.”

It is “likely,” the article says, that Obama would implement abortion coverage once it is allowed.  “Obama has said in the past that 'reproductive services' would be covered by his public plan, so it's likely that any new federal insurance plan would cover abortion unless Congress expressly prohibits that,” Jackson writes.  “Low- and moderate-income persons who would choose the 'public plan' would qualify for federal subsidies to purchase it. Private plans that cover abortion also could be purchased with the help of federal subsidies.

“Therefore, we judge that the president goes too far when he calls the statements that government would be funding abortions 'fabrications',” Jackson concludes.

Responding to Obama's “fabrications” remark, the National Right to Life Committee's legislative director Douglas Johnson said, “the bill backed by the White House (H.R. 3200) explicitly authorizes the government plan to cover all elective abortions.”  Jackson, indicating that FactCheck does not take a position on whether abortion should be covered or not, nevertheless confirms Johnson's statement, saying, “our analysis shows that Johnson's statement is correct. … The House bill does just that.”

Jackson says it is the July 30th Capps amendment – which was billed as a “common ground” initiative – ( that has opened the door to publicly funded abortion.  The amendment explicitly includes abortion funding in the government plan, namely those covered by Medicaid, such as cases of rape or incest.  But it also allows other types of abortions to be covered, according to the judgment of the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

The current Secretary of the HHS, Kathleen Sebelius, is a well-known abortion supporter.

“The Capps Amendment MANDATES that the public plan cover any Medicaid-fundable abortions, and AUTHORIZES the secretary to cover all other abortions,” said NRLC's Johnson, quoted by Jackson.  “From day one, she [Secretary Kathleen Sebelius] is authorized to pay for them all. And, she will.”

“We can't say what anyone will do in the future,” writes's Jackson, but then points to Obama's 2007 comments to Planned Parenthood, where he indicated that “reproductive services” would be “essential care” in his health plan.  “Obama did not use the word 'abortion,'” Jackson says, “but a spokesman for the campaign said later that abortion would be included, according to the Chicago Tribune.”

Under the Capps amendment, Jackson says, the public health plan could fund all abortions.  While, “the Capps amendment does contain a statement … that prohibits the use of public money to pay for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother,” the plan could cover all abortions, “so long as the plans took in enough private money in the form of premiums paid by individuals or their employers.”

“The Capps language also would allow private plans purchased with federal subsidies ('affordability credits' for low-income families and workers) to cover abortion,” he says.

Jackson mentions the defeated Stupak amendment, which would have overruled the Capps amendment, that “prohibited government funding of 'any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion,' except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.”

But, he concludes, “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.”

See related coverage:

Obama Calls Abortion Funding in Healthcare Legislation a “Fabrication”


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