The debate over the abortion mandate between President Obama and his pro-life opposition reached new heights last Wednesday.
Though the President set out to make his position on abortion in health care clearer via a nationwide conference call to America’s faith community, he stirred up quite a bit of controversy. Besides claiming that “there are some folks out there who are frankly bearing false witness,” Obama went on to add: “You’ve heard that this is all going to mean government funding of abortion. Not true.”
Two days later, the nonpartisan Factcheck.org released an analysis, Abortion: Which Side is Fabricating? The analysis juxtaposed President Obama’s remarks with those of Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee. After President Obama’s conference call, Johnson had released a statement exclaiming that the President “brazenly misrepresented the abortion-related component” of the health care bill. After examining all sides, Factcheck defended NRLC and pro-lifers, saying that “the president goes too far when he calls the statements that government would be funding abortions ‘fabrications.’”
Citing directly from the health care bill itself, including the controversial “common-ground” Capps Amendment, Factcheck.org clearly explained the reasoning and rationale of pro-lifers, to their vindication. Here is an excerpt from the Factcheck.org analysis:
“Abortion foes quickly denounced Obama’s statement as untrue. The NRLC’s Johnson said “the bill backed by the White House (H.R. 3200) explicitly authorizes the government plan to cover all elective abortions.” And our analysis shows that Johnson’s statement is correct. Though we of course take no position on whether the legislation should allow or not allow coverage for abortions, the House bill does just that.
The House leadership’s bill (H.R. 3200) actually made no mention of abortion when it was introduced. Johnson refers to an amendment to the bill adopted by the House Energy and Commerce Committee July 30. Abortion rights proponents characterize it as a compromise, but it hasn’t satisfied the anti-abortion side. Offered by Democratic Rep. Lois Capps of California, the amendment was approved narrowly by the committee, 30 – 28, with most but not all Democrats voting in favor and no Republicans backing it. The Capps amendment states that some abortions “shall” be covered by the “public option” plan, specifically those types of abortions that Congress allows to be covered under Medicaid, under the so-called “Hyde Amendment,” which has been attached regularly to appropriations bills for many years. These are abortions performed in cases or rape or incest, or to save the life of the mother.
As for other types of abortions, the Capps amendment leaves it to the secretary of Health and Human Services to decide whether or not they will be covered. It says, “Nothing in this Act shall be construed as preventing the public health insurance option from providing” abortion services that would not be legal for Medicaid coverage. Says the NRLC’s Johnson: “The Capps Amendment MANDATES that the public plan cover any Medicaid-fundable abortions, and AUTHORIZES the secretary to cover all other abortions. … [F]rom 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. But Obama himself said on July 17, 2007, that “[i]n my mind, reproductive care is essential care” and would be covered by his public insurance plan. He was addressing Planned Parenthood:
Obama, July 17, 2007: 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, as well as mental health services and disease management services, because part of our interest is to make sure that we’re putting more money into preventive care.
Obama did not use the word “abortion,” but a spokesman for the campaign said later that abortion would be included, according to the Chicago Tribune.”
The analysis went on to cover the issue of whether public funds could be used for abortion under the new reform bill. Siding again with Douglas Johnson and the NRLC, Factcheck.org stated that the health care bill “would still allow the public plan to cover all abortions, so long as the plans took in enough private money in the form of premiums paid by individuals or their employers.”
Concluded the analysis, “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.”
This development in the abortion debate is a break-through for the pro-live movement nationwide. For the President’s remarks on abortion to be found invalid by a national organization with no ties to the pro-life movement represents the greater interest in the abortion issue across the American spectrum.
The analysis by Factcheck.org and the subsequent media coverage it has received echo the larger shift in the minds of Americans across the country. The abortion debate is being brought out from the shadows and into a real discussion about what is best for the future of the nation.