Over 36,000 Participate in Webcast to Stop the Abortion Mandate in Obama Healthcare

By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 23, 2009 ( - The "Stop the Abortion Mandate" webcast Thursday evening attracted a large web audience to hear pro-life luminaries unveil the dangers behind President Obama's healthcare bill, which has been referred to as the "largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade."

Last night's attendance shattered the previous record of 7,000 listeners at a pro-life webcast, with over 36,000 tuning in from all across America to listen to the information-packed two hour session.  (A recording of the webcast is available here

"This is the big one," Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey declared to the audience.  "Not since Roe versus Wade have our children and their moms been more at risk."

Leaders discussed the healthcare bill's threat to current pro-life laws, the list of pro-life and pro-conscience amendments already rejected by House and Senate committees, and action items for listeners wanting to help turn the tide.  One leader pegged the dangerous healthcare rationing inherent in the bill as an often-overlooked pro-life issue. 

A recurring theme in the webcast was the enormous stakes that Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider, has in the healthcare bill's success.  Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council called the healthcare overhaul "the Planned Parenthood bailout bill." 

National Right to Life Committee legislative director Douglas Johnson explained that the bill will lead to virtually every healthcare insurer, both private and public, being required to include federally-mandated "essential benefits."  These benefits will undoubtedly include abortion, as dictated by the pro-abortion Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and according to the stated expectations of the abortion lobby.

"[Abortion advocates] talk about the unmet need for abortion," he noted.  "They complain that the Hyde amendment has prevented many of abortions from occurring - and indeed, using their studies, we see that at least one million Americans are walking around alive today because of the Hyde amendment. Maybe closer to two million. But the pro-abortion advocates, some of them see that as a problem."

The abortion lobby has even been encouraged to kick back into "campaign mode" to pass the health care bill by one White House official meeting with the Planned Parenthood 2009 Organizing and Planning Summit last week.

"The abortion industry is hopeful that health reform will be used to subsidize and expand abortion precisely because they know their industry is collapsing," said Fr. Pavone of Priests for Life.  "They are using this as a last-ditch effort to save a dying industry."  Fr. Pavone announced that Priest for Life has already begun a massive prayer campaign to halt the legislation.

In addition to the abortion mandate, leaders pointed to another danger to human life embedded in the bill: healthcare rationing.  Kristan Hawkins, the leader of Students for Life, discussed the implications of the healthcare bill for her 5-month-old son Gunner, who has been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. Hawkins pointed to a May 3 interview with the New York Times in which Obama advocated "an independent group that can give you guidance" to ration healthcare away from those who are chronically ill or elderly, who otherwise could take up too large a portion of the government plan's funds.

"Obama admits that healthcare is going to be rationed for people like my son, who require extensive medical treatments and drugs to stay alive, because he is less valued," said Hawkins. "This is a pro-life issue."   (see Kristan's webpage here)

Peggy Hartshorn of Heartbeat International and Melinda Delahoyde of Care Net discussed the impact of the abortion mandate on pregnancy centers.  If abortions are covered by health insurance plans, they said, fewer women would be drawn to the free-of-charge services of the pregnancy centers. 

Several of the leaders, particularly Reps. Chris Smith and Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania, called for attendees to be aware of the danger of being fooled by "fake amendments and deceptive language that will appear to be pro-life, but in fact will be empty promises."

"Some in Congress are now trying to cobble together a phony compromise on the abortion mandate and abortion funding," warned Rep. Chris Smith.  "While we have yet to see the language, please be aware.  If past experience is any guide, if past is prologue, as it very often is, we need to be exceedingly wary and alert concerning bogus legislative language that purports to be pro-life.  Passing airtight language is paramount."

But while deceptive tactics are being employed by some Democrats, it may be the efforts of true pro-life Democrat lawmakers opposing the abortion mandate that will ultimately turn the tide against the healthcare bill. 

Kristen Day of Democrats for Life told webcast attendees that pro-life Democrats are "a unique and often overlooked segment of the pro-life community," whose efforts put them at constant risk of backlash from Democratic leadership. 

"I bet if all 30,000 of you were not on mute, I would hear a collective gasp, as many of you don't believe there is a species such as a pro-life Democrat," said Day.  "But I can assure you that we exist, and the pro-life Democrats in Congress are doing a herculean effort to represent and advocate for our views in the healthcare reform bill."

Above all, said the leaders, the fate of the bill and the future landscape of abortion in America depends on the initiative of citizens asking their own House and Senate representatives to vote against the bill.

"Go to Congressional and Senate town hall meetings, meet with district offices, and let your voice be heard," urged Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America.  "You're a citizen, you have a right to make sure your representative knows what you believe."

Several of the leaders expressed gratitude for the opportunity to hold a "family meeting" of pro-lifers across America at such a crucial juncture.  David Bereit, best known for his work with the 40 Days for Life campaign and the webcast's organizer, expressed amazement at the success of the webcast.

"I have never been more encouraged by the strength and vibrancy of the pro-life movement as I have been just over the past few days," he said.

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