WASHINGTON – A coalition of some of the nation's largest conservative, faith-based groups say they plan to "stop" Congress from rushing to pass the health care bill.
Objecting to what they see as lack of protection for human life in the current bill, the organizations say they will mobilize voices to engage in the national dialogue. Any government-funded health reform, they say, must exclude abortion coverage and not ration care.
"We believe that when the legislators ... come back to Washington after the summer break that there will be a push to put this on a fast track," said Ken Blackwell, former Ohio Secretary of State and now a senior fellow for family empowerment at the Family Research Council. "We will be a stop sign and say, 'Let's apply reason and thought and broaden participation.'"
Blackwell was among a handful of conservative leaders representing Freedom Federation at a press conference Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
The Freedom Federation is a coalition of more than two dozen faith-based and policy organizations that launched in June. Leaders of the federation say they are joined by their belief in the sanctity of human life, among other issues, and will band together to advocate for an amendment to the bill that bans the use of federal funds to pay for abortion.
"We believe human life is sacred because we are made in the image of God and endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights, including the right to life," said Mathew D. Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel and dean of the Liberty University School of Law.
"Government must protect human life. Life, no matter how young, is not expendable, and no matter how ill or aged is not to be weighted in a cost-benefit scale," he said. "This is a debate we must engage in, but those are fundamental core values that we cannot compromise on."
Though the federation says the current health care bill funds abortion, President Obama and his administration have vehemently denied it.
Last week during a teleconference with religious leaders, Obama said government funding of abortions is "not true," and among the "fabrications" created by opponents of his health care policy.
But a recently released analysis from factcheck.org, which takes no position on whether the health care bill should or should not allow coverage for abortions, wrote that the bill "would allow abortions to be covered by a federal plan and by federally subsidized private plans."
The site's director, Brooks Jackson, commented, "[W]e judge that the president goes too far when he calls the statement that government would be funding abortions 'fabrications.'"
On Wednesday, members of the federation told personal stories of how the current U.S. health care system has worked for them.
Bishop Harry R. Jackson, Jr., chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition, said when he was diagnosed with cancer several years ago, doctors said he only had a 15 percent chance of surviving. But then he was able to get quick treatment at John Hopkins Hospital and survive, all under the current health system, he said.
Jackson clarified to The Christian Post why he said the health care system is "working" when tens of millions of Americans don't have health insurance.
He explained that what he meant to say is there are aspects of the health care system that is working. America has the best health care in the world in terms of technology, research and procedure, Jackson said.
The conservative black pastor argues that the government shouldn't eliminate the good qualities of the current system, but instead support services to help expand health care to those who don't have health insurance.
He suggested using churches and faith-based organizations to care for those without insurance. A medical van operated by people of faith could be dispatched to provide care to people, and a church can also provide medical care. Jackson said there are already several successful examples of this model in the United States and in Africa.
"The issue is not whether we agree on helping poor people or not. The issue is how to help," Jackson said. "The reality is, the solutions that have been presented don't offer a moral and a practical way of dealing with those problems."
Other federation members urged lawmakers to improve health care by making insurance coverage portable so it is not dependent on a particular job or state, or to pass tort reform to limit the circumstances an injured person may sue or how much money injured people can be rewarded. Proponents of tort reform believe reduction in medical-related litigations can help reduce the cost of health care.
Federation members announced that a national health care webcast hosted by the Family Research Council will take place on Sept. 10.