- (Photo: AP / Lynne Sladky)
Despite the efforts of President Obama, the White House and Democratic leaders to change opinions, many pro-life groups are convinced that the health care bill does allow federal funds to cover abortion procedures.
Several large pro-life organizations on Monday pointed to a recent article by Factcheck.org entitled, “Abortion: Which Side is Fabricating?” as support for their argument.
The Factcheck.org article asserts that the current House bill “would allow abortions to be covered by a federal plan and by federally subsidized private plans.”
Factcheck.org is a project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. It takes no position on whether the health care bill should or should not allow coverage for abortions.
The article, by the site’s director Brooks Jackson, was in response to the statement released by the National Right to Life Committee following President Obama’s address to religious leaders last Wednesday.
Douglas Johnson, the NRLC’s legislative director, had said, “President Obama today brazenly misrepresented the abortion-related component of the health care legislation…the bill backed by the White House (H.R. 3200) explicitly authorizes the government plan to cover all elective abortions.”
According to Factcheck.org, Johnson is correct in that federal funds will be used to cover abortions.
“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,” Jackson wrote.
Though the proposed plan does not require federal funds to be used to support abortion coverage, the analyst explained, it does allow an optional “public” insurance plan to cover abortions.
People with low to moderate income can qualify for federal subsidies to purchase both the public and private plans that cover abortion.
NRLC explained in more detail on Monday that the House bill contains language that allows the federal agency managing the “public option” to collect an additional amount of premium funds to cover the costs of elective abortions. No one would be allowed to enroll in the “public option” without paying the abortion surcharge.
The pro-life group asserts that once the government collects these funds, they are considered public or federal funds.
“When the government uses those funds to write payment checks to abortionists, that is government funding of abortion,” the NRLC argued.
In the latest issue of Time, the magazine's White House correspondent, Michael Scherer, stated that President Obama is “technically correct” when he says that it is “not true” that government will fund abortion, but the statement “does not tell the whole story.”
The proposed House health care reform bill would cause marked change in the federal government’s role in financing of abortions.
“So in effect, anyone who wanted to sign up for the public option, a federally funded and administered program, would find themselves paying for abortion coverage,” Scherer wrote. “[T]he new system differs markedly from the old federal policy of not involving the government in abortion services unless issues of rape, incest or the life of the mother are at play.”
Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), who last month proposed an amendment to prevent mandatory abortion coverage in public or private plan, said in Time that President Obama either doesn’t understand the bill or “if he is aware of it, and he is making these statements, then he is misleading people.”
Factcheck.org director Brooks Jackson concluded, “Therefore, we judge that the president goes too far when he calls the statements that government would be funding abortions 'fabrications.'"
Jackson did acknowledge, however, that President Obama’s “not true” statement is partly correct because Congress did not “require” federal money to be used to support abortion coverage.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, meanwhile commented, “President Obama seems to regard language as a magic wand he can use to change reality. But however much he protests, he cannot change the fact that under the provisions of his health proposals, the federal government will fund abortion.
“From TIME Magazine to the Associated Press to senior members of his own party, more and more leading legislators, commentators and policy analysts are acknowledging that taxpayers would, in fact, be paying for abortions under the Obama health insurance regime.”
If it is true that there will be no federal funding of abortion, Perkins challenged the president to tell Congress to accept an amendment that would prevent abortion from being any part of government health care except in the cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.