Pro-life groups mount staunch opposition to health care reform proposals

Pro-life groups are marshaling opposition to proposals in health care reform legislation that could allow federal funding for abortion. The concern stems from the fact that amendments to specifically outlaw public funding of abortions failed, USA Today reported. Bills include the possibility that Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius or other government officials could decide what has could be covered. Sebelius, the Kansas governor before being appointed to HHS chief by President Obama, has been a frequent target of criticism by pro-life groups for her positions on abortion. USA Today also reported that factcheck.org, a project of the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, said there is not specific language in any existing legislation that specifically advocates federal abortion funding. According to the Associated Press, a law called the Hyde Amendment puts restrictions on Medicaid, forcing states that cover abortion for low-income women to do so with their own money. Separate laws apply the restrictions to the federal employee health plan and military and other programs. The health overhaul would create a stream of federal funding not covered by the restrictions, AP said. The new federal funds would take the form of subsidies for low- and middle-income people buying coverage through the health insurance exchange. Subsidies would be available for people to buy the public plan or private coverage. Making things more complicated, the federal subsidies would be mixed in with contributions from individuals and employers. Eventually, most Americans could end up getting their coverage through the exchange, AP said. The Democratic health care proposals on Capitol Hill did not mention abortion one way or the other. Because of that, skepticism prevails in the pro-life community. Ashley Horne, federal policy analyst for Christian-based Focus on the Family pointed out in a commentary that changes to abortion funding in Washington, D.C., could provide a preview of the federal strategy. “For 13 years, no tax dollars have been used for abortions in the District of Columbia (with rare exceptions), because each year, pro-life lawmakers specifically excluded abortion funding in D.C.’s spending bill,” Horne wrote. “This year, that provision was removed by Democrats, to the sheer delight of pro-abortion groups like Planned Parenthood. So guess what? Without a specific restriction on abortion funding, the District of Columbia will use your tax dollars to pay for abortions. “And once the abortion-funding horse is out of the barn, it ain’t going back in. “The healthcare proposal bypasses the traditional channel by which pro-life members of Congress have been able to exclude abortion funding from spending bills. That means — barring another major act of Congress — the health care bill will fund abortion-on-demand without end in sight. “So it doesn’t take a political rocket scientist to know that any health care proposal that does not specifically exclude abortion coverage will — particularly under a Congress controlled by Democrats — absolutely and unequivocally pay for the practice.” Horne also expressed concern on the part of health care professionals who may object to abortion on moral or religious grounds. “There’s also one more major problem with the healthcare proposal in Congress. The proposal does not include conscience protections for health care professionals who refuse to participate in or perform abortions based on their religious convictions or moral conscience. “This means that doctors and other healthcare professionals will be forced to perform abortions or risk going out of business. According to one report, as many as 95 percent of faith-based physicians would stop practicing medicine rather than violate his or her conscience by performing an abortion.” Similarly Randy Pate, blogging for the conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation, states that a group of 19 centrist Democrats expressed concern to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a letter that specific mention of federal funds not being targeted for abortion neeed to be concluded. In its markup of the bill, Pate said the House Benefits Advisory Committee, “approved provisions to require insurance plans to contract with organizations that perform abortions. In addition, several amendments were rejected that would have preserved states’ laws regulating abortion, prohibited federal funds from being used for abortions, and provided conscious protections for health care providers for not providing abortions.” Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee has written that he believes the fact abortion isn’t specifically mentioned is a legislative trick. “The bills don’t mention cardiac bypass operations or cataract extractions, either, but those procedures will be mandated as essential services, and so will elective abortion, unless Congress explicitly excludes abortion from the bills,” Johnson wrote. He added he believes the health care legislation could be the largest expansion of abortion rights since the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. “Abortion policy is emerging as a major issue on health care restructuring legislation, as the public is awakening to the Obama Administration’s attempt to smuggle into law the greatest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade,” Johnson wrote. Opposition by conservative activists in recent days has disrupted town hall-style meeting congressmen have had on different places around the country claiming the legislation will lead to health care rationing and too large of a degree of government involvement in personal health care decisions. The Obama Administration is not taking the protests lightly, offering tips to Democrats who encounter such resistance. “It’s a challenge, no question about it, and you’ve got to get out there and make the case,” Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., said afterward to AP after meeting with top White House political adviser David Axlerod. “This is not the time for the faint-hearted.” Links: USA Today — Health care debate steers into abortion, euthanasia: http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/columnist/raasch/2009-08-06-newpolitics_N.htm Factcheck.org: http://www.factcheck.org/ Associated Press — Top Democrat denounces health care protests: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jlMpJGn28kqCcgU-aGcYE_ZHW-ywD99TMG200 Focus on the Family Action: http://www.citizenlink.org/healthcare/ The Heritage Foundation – Taxpayer Funding for Abortion: Another Sleeper Issue in Health Care Reform?: http://blog.heritage.org/2009/07/17/taxpayer-funding-for-abortion-another-sleeper-issue-in-health-care-reform/ National Right to Life: http://www.nrlc.org/default.html

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Pro-life groups mount staunch opposition to health care reform proposals

Pro-life groups are marshaling opposition to proposals in health care reform legislation that could allow federal funding for abortion. The concern stems from the fact that amendments to specifically outlaw public funding of abortions failed, USA Today reported. Bills include the possibility that Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius or other government officials could decide what has could be covered. Sebelius, the Kansas governor before being appointed to HHS chief by President Obama, has been a frequent target of criticism by pro-life groups for her positions on abortion. USA Today also reported that factcheck.org, a project of the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, said there is not specific language in any existing legislation that specifically advocates federal abortion funding. According to the Associated Press, a law called the Hyde Amendment puts restrictions on Medicaid, forcing states that cover abortion for low-income women to do so with their own money. Separate laws apply the restrictions to the federal employee health plan and military and other programs. The health overhaul would create a stream of federal funding not covered by the restrictions, AP said. The new federal funds would take the form of subsidies for low- and middle-income people buying coverage through the health insurance exchange. Subsidies would be available for people to buy the public plan or private coverage. Making things more complicated, the federal subsidies would be mixed in with contributions from individuals and employers. Eventually, most Americans could end up getting their coverage through the exchange, AP said. The Democratic health care proposals on Capitol Hill did not mention abortion one way or the other. Because of that, skepticism prevails in the pro-life community. Ashley Horne, federal policy analyst for Christian-based Focus on the Family pointed out in a commentary that changes to abortion funding in Washington, D.C., could provide a preview of the federal strategy. “For 13 years, no tax dollars have been used for abortions in the District of Columbia (with rare exceptions), because each year, pro-life lawmakers specifically excluded abortion funding in D.C.’s spending bill,” Horne wrote. “This year, that provision was removed by Democrats, to the sheer delight of pro-abortion groups like Planned Parenthood. So guess what? Without a specific restriction on abortion funding, the District of Columbia will use your tax dollars to pay for abortions. “And once the abortion-funding horse is out of the barn, it ain’t going back in. “The healthcare proposal bypasses the traditional channel by which pro-life members of Congress have been able to exclude abortion funding from spending bills. That means — barring another major act of Congress — the health care bill will fund abortion-on-demand without end in sight. “So it doesn’t take a political rocket scientist to know that any health care proposal that does not specifically exclude abortion coverage will — particularly under a Congress controlled by Democrats — absolutely and unequivocally pay for the practice.” Horne also expressed concern on the part of health care professionals who may object to abortion on moral or religious grounds. “There’s also one more major problem with the healthcare proposal in Congress. The proposal does not include conscience protections for health care professionals who refuse to participate in or perform abortions based on their religious convictions or moral conscience. “This means that doctors and other healthcare professionals will be forced to perform abortions or risk going out of business. According to one report, as many as 95 percent of faith-based physicians would stop practicing medicine rather than violate his or her conscience by performing an abortion.” Similarly Randy Pate, blogging for the conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation, states that a group of 19 centrist Democrats expressed concern to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a letter that specific mention of federal funds not being targeted for abortion neeed to be concluded. In its markup of the bill, Pate said the House Benefits Advisory Committee, “approved provisions to require insurance plans to contract with organizations that perform abortions. In addition, several amendments were rejected that would have preserved states’ laws regulating abortion, prohibited federal funds from being used for abortions, and provided conscious protections for health care providers for not providing abortions.” Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee has written that he believes the fact abortion isn’t specifically mentioned is a legislative trick. “The bills don’t mention cardiac bypass operations or cataract extractions, either, but those procedures will be mandated as essential services, and so will elective abortion, unless Congress explicitly excludes abortion from the bills,” Johnson wrote. He added he believes the health care legislation could be the largest expansion of abortion rights since the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. “Abortion policy is emerging as a major issue on health care restructuring legislation, as the public is awakening to the Obama Administration’s attempt to smuggle into law the greatest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade,” Johnson wrote. Opposition by conservative activists in recent days has disrupted town hall-style meeting congressmen have had on different places around the country claiming the legislation will lead to health care rationing and too large of a degree of government involvement in personal health care decisions. The Obama Administration is not taking the protests lightly, offering tips to Democrats who encounter such resistance. “It’s a challenge, no question about it, and you’ve got to get out there and make the case,” Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., said afterward to AP after meeting with top White House political adviser David Axlerod. “This is not the time for the faint-hearted.” Links: USA Today — Health care debate steers into abortion, euthanasia: http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/columnist/raasch/2009-08-06-newpolitics_N.htm Factcheck.org: http://www.factcheck.org/ Associated Press — Top Democrat denounces health care protests: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jlMpJGn28kqCcgU-aGcYE_ZHW-ywD99TMG200 Focus on the Family Action: http://www.citizenlink.org/healthcare/ The Heritage Foundation – Taxpayer Funding for Abortion: Another Sleeper Issue in Health Care Reform?: http://blog.heritage.org/2009/07/17/taxpayer-funding-for-abortion-another-sleeper-issue-in-health-care-reform/ National Right to Life: http://www.nrlc.org/default.html

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