By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 10, 2009 ( – President Obama told a joint session of Congress last night that “no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions” in his proposed health care overhaul.  Pro-life leaders across America, however, immediately slammed the claim, pointing to the testimony of independent analysts who have asserted that the current legislation will in fact open government funds to abortion.

Obama stated in his address to Congress Wednesday night: “One more misunderstanding I want to clear up – under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.” 

Last month, Obama had similarly dismissed the abortion debate by telling faith leaders in a conference call that it was a “fabrication” that the health care legislation involved “government funding of abortions.” 

In response, National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) legislative director Douglas Johnson noted that the wording of Obama's statement allowed him to dispense with the abortion opposition without admitting the actual expansion of abortion in the bill.  “Obama apparently seeks to hide behind a technical distinction between tax funds and government-collected premiums,” said Johnson.  “These are merely two types of public funds, collected and spent by government agencies.”

He continued: “The Obama-backed legislation makes it explicitly clear that no citizen would be allowed to enroll in the government plan unless he or she is willing to give the federal agency an extra amount calculated to cover the cost of all elective abortions – this would not be optional.  The abortionists would bill the federal government and would be paid by the federal government.

“These are public funds, and this is government funding of abortion.”

A subsequent report by the non-partisan analysis group concluded that Johnson's contention that the bill “explicitly authorizes the government plan to cover all elective abortions” was correct, and that the president went “too far” by calling the charge a “fabrication.”

A report by the Associated Press in early August confirmed that the legislation would allow the government plan to cover abortions and “recast federal policy” on abortion. 

Pro-life leaders came down hard against President Obama's most recent dismissal of abortion's role in the health care legislation.

“This simply is not true!” stated the Stop the Abortion Mandate coalition, a group dedicated to stopping the abortion expansion in the health care bill, in an email to constituents.  “Even the mainstream media and respected fact-checking organizations are calling out the President on this misinformation.”

Congressman Chris Smith, one of the leading voices on Capitol Hill against the abortion mandate, said that the president's words revealed his “implicit recognition” that “Americans reject public funding for abortion, and that Americans do not want to be complicit in the dismemberment or clinical poisoning of unborn children and the wounding of their mothers.” 

“President Obama recognizes this political reality and is seeking to 'pull one over' on the American public saying that his plan won't fund abortion,” said Smith.  “Yet even the nonpartisan has called him on this fallacious and deceptive claim.”

Smith continued: “President Obama must be held accountable for his words.  If he intends to support the pro-life amendments that have thus far been deleted by pro-abortion members of his party, we welcome that.  But the truth is that he seeks to cover up his intention to use the government-run public plan to send checks from the U.S. treasury to abortionists around the country.”

Operation Rescue President Troy Newman called it “shameful and disturbing” that the president “would stand before Congress and all of the nation, look into the camera, and lie about a matter that is of great concern to the vast majority of the American people who oppose using their hard-earned money to bail out a failing abortion industry.”

“Obama has denigrated the office of the Presidency and played the American people for fools,” said Newman.

Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, stated in response to the President's speech: “If there are 'misunderstandings' or 'bogus claims' about abortion funding in pending health reform legislation, as the President claimed in his speech, they are coming from the White House, not pro-lifers.”

The constitutional law firm American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) noted that President Obama's silence on restricting abortion from the new plan was as dangerous as his denying the abortion expansion.

“President Obama did nothing to alleviate the growing concern about turning health care into a government-run bureaucracy that will include an open door for transforming abortion into a mandatory health benefit,” said ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow.  “President Obama's comments about abortion funding and health care simply don't reflect the real story. 

“The fact is that a specific exemption must be included in the current legislative proposals to prohibit any mandate for abortion services in health care reform and to prohibit federal dollars from funding plans that include abortion services,” said Sekulow.  “And, without such an exemption, there's a green light in place for making abortion services a mandatory health benefit funded by federal tax dollars.”


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