By Kathleen Gilbert
WASHINGTON, D.C, August 13, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – As calls for protection against abortion in President Obama's health care legislation fall on deaf ears, Planned Parenthood (PP) has made no secret of its continued communications with the White House on its interest in ensuring that “reproductive health” plays a central role in the final version of the legislation.
“Just left the White House meeting on women's health care – they appreciate all the mighty PP supporters speaking up for reform in the states!” wrote Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards on her Facebook and Twitter accounts Wednesday afternoon.
The latest meeting continues an apparently tight relationship between Planned Parenthood and the White House, where Obama administration officials have expressed their full cooperation with and encouragement of Planned Parenthood's stake in the bill.
In the opening session of the Planned Parenthood 2009 Organizing and Policy Summit last month, White House Public Engagement director Tina Tchen gave an update on the administration's progress in attaining health care reform and assured the crowd of President Obama's commitment to “women's health.”
According to the PP release, participants at the three-day summit set their sights on the current health care legislation, to ensure it includes “access to comprehensive reproductive health care and access to essential community providers within the network.”
“Health care reform is moving full steam ahead, and policymakers in Washington need to know the importance of including women's health care as part of a reform package,” said Richards.
As Family Research Council president Tony Perkins has pointed out, Planned Parenthood, America's largest abortion provider, stands to gain substantially if the legislation includes them as an “essential community provider.” Insurance providers, in order to be certified, would be required to contract with Planned Parenthood under that designation.
During a meeting of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee last month, when pro-life Senator Orrin Hatch expressed concern that Planned Parenthood would be included in the bill, Sen. Barbara Mikulski admitted that Planned Parenthood was slated for “essential community provider” status.
Yet while the Obama White House has been swift to attack other criticisms of the bill, it continues to remain silent on the impact the bill will have on America's abortion landscape
While the abortion expansion embedded in the bill – called the “Planned Parenthood Bailout Bill” by Family Research Council's Tony Perkins – has sparked considerable public backlash in its own right, the issue is notably missing in the White House's “reality check” page on health care reform legislation.
When CBS news anchor Katie Couric in July asked President Obama point blank whether he favored a government option that covered abortions, Obama evaded the question, saying it was important not to “micromanage” the content of the benefits package or “get distracted by the abortion debate at this station.”
Nonetheless, Obama's current legislation appears to be making good on his promise to Planned Parenthood in July 2007, when he assured that abortion availability played a central role his plans for health care reform.
Obama, a senator at the time, told attendees at the Planned Parenthood Action Fund event that he intended to include abortion in the public health insurance option, and require such coverage by private insurers.
In response to a question on the role of “reproductive health care” in his health care reform, Obama answered: “Well look, in my mind reproductive care is essential care. It is basic care, and so it is at the center, and at the heart of the plan that I propose.
“Essentially, what we are doing is to say that we're going to set up a public plan that all persons and all women can access if they don't have health insurance. it will be a plan that will provide all essential services, including reproductive services.
“We also will subsidize those who prefer to stay in the private insurance market, except the insurers are going to have to abide by the same rules in terms of providing comprehensive care, including reproductive care,” he added.
In addition, Obama stated that “it is important for organizations like Planned Parenthood to be part of that system.”
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