This article originally appeared in The Weekly Standard on July 20, 2009 (Vol. 14, No. 41).
The Abortion Administration Here comes federal funding for abortion
By: Marjorie Dannenfelser
In his first week in office, President Obama issued an executive order overturning the Reagan-era Mexico City regulations, which had prohibited American foreign aid from going to organizations that finance overseas abortions. Just a few weeks later, the Gallup organization revealed that the executive order was the single most unpopular action taken by the president during his honeymoon period. At a time when American families had experienced an average 25 percent decline in their net worth, it would appear that increasing the net worth of foreign abortionists was not high on their to-do list.
Their reaction was even less surprising in the light of another recent Gallup finding: For the first time in over 10 years, voters who describe themselves as pro-life have taken the lead (by 51 to 42 percent) over voters who describe themselves as pro-choice. Even this understates antiabortion sentiment, since many people who describe themselves as pro-choice, when probed, favor restrictions on abortion that the present Supreme Court, with its five members who voted for or favor Planned Parenthood v. Casey, would never allow.
Given the breadth of his domestic agenda, the president might want to make a midcourse correction on abortion. Why highlight an issue where the bulk of the American people, including a sizable share of the 52.9 percent of the electorate who voted for him, are either going in the other direction or have severe qualms?
But by now, nearly six months in, the bottom line for Barack Obama is clear. After making a few polite noises about finding “common ground” with pro-lifers, his administration has shown zero interest in doing so. Instead, the Obama agenda is to weave government-backed abortion into the fabric of American life and make it a far more integral part of domestic and foreign policy than ever before.
Exhibit A is the emerging Democratic plan for health reform. At this writing, the draft House bill is the best indicator of where the administration and congressional Democrats are heading. Agreed on by three powerful committee chairmen, Henry Waxman (energy and commerce), George Miller (education and labor), and Charles Rangel (ways and means), the House bill outlines a minimum-benefits package that will be universal–that is, required of every American’s insurance plan, whether provided by a private firm or by the government. It lists, among others, two categories: “out-patient hospital services” and “out-patient clinic services.”
What services are included under these categories? Is abortion covered? If the drafters of the Democratic bill have their way, this will never be specified in the bill itself. It will be decided by a “Health Benefits Advisory Committee,” whose membership will be determined by President Obama and Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services who is remembered by Kansas pro-lifers for her gubernatorial vetoes of restrictions on late-term abortions.
Clearly, if Obama’s preferred health reform becomes law, abortion will be defined as a “health benefit” automatically provided to every American family. The Hyde amendment, which for more than 30 years has banned federal funding for almost all abortions and has enjoyed overwhelming congressional support, will become all but irrelevant once abortion on demand is defined as a universal “health benefit.”
The same relentless agenda recently surfaced locally, as it were, when the president endorsed the repeal of the Dornan amendment. If Obama gets his way on this, the left-liberal District of Columbia government will be free to spend government money on abortions for the first time since 1995. This is apparently what the president has decided our nation’s capital needs, given its steadily declining population, low rate of family formation, and recorded legal abortions already nearly equal to the number of its live births.
This vision will be aggressively promoted abroad by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She recently testified that the administration is promoting “reproductive health,” which the secretary acknowledged includes “access to abortion.” Recently, the House passed the Foreign Affairs Authorization Act, which if agreed to by the Senate will establish an Office of Global Women’s Issues that will deal with “international women’s issues.” When New Jersey congressman Chris Smith offered an amendment to prohibit the new Office of Global Women’s Issues from promoting abortion, he was voted down in committee and the leadership refused to allow the House of Representatives to consider his amendment on the floor.
Why is Obama pushing ahead with such a radical abortion agenda? Since there’s no way to accuse him of doing it out of poll-driven opportunism, sincere conviction becomes the most plausible motive. Sometimes the simplest, most straightforward answer makes the most sense. A president who once said he wouldn’t want his daughter punished with a baby if she made a mistake is deeply committed to making free and easy access to abortion an inescapable element of American culture.
Marjorie Dannenfelser is president of the Susan B. Anthony List, a nationwide organization dedicated to advancing, mobilizing, and representing pro-life women in the political process.