Over 36,000 Americans joined a last-minute nationwide webcast Thursday to hear from more than a dozen top-level pro-life leaders about the massive effort to mandate taxpayer-funded abortions as part of a proposed trillion-dollar healthcare takeover.
"As a candidate, President Obama said he wanted to make abortions rare. This health care proposal gives the lie to that statement," said Tom Minnery, vice president of Government and Public Policy for Focus on the Family.
"Obviously, we all know what is taxed, what is subsidized, what tax money is used for will expand. If abortions are subsidized, we'll get many thousands more abortions. Many thousands of unborn children will die if abortion is covered in these regulations," he added.
Brought together by David Bereit, national director of 40 Days for Life, participants of Thursday's webcast heard from a broad range of pro-life leaders who touched upon various sides of the abortion debate, including the negative effects of abortion on women, the abortion industry's targeting of minority populations, the collapsing abortion industry's need for government funding, and the corruption within Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of abortions in the nation.
At the heart of the webcast was health care legislation that is making its way through Congress and includes provisions that would mandate abortion services.
According to pro-life organizations, the legislation – if passed – would empower federal officials to mandate coverage of abortion on demand in virtually all health plans. The legislation would also result in massive federal subsidies for abortion on demand, require expansions of abortion providers in many areas of the country, and result in nullification of at least some state abortion regulations.
"If abortion is not explicitly excluded from health care reform then this will represent the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade," stated Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life.
Though Roe v. Wade allowed abortion at any time in pregnancy for any reason or no reason at all, subsequent decisions on abortion by the Supreme Court have significantly weakened the 1973 ruling, explained Pavone.
Furthermore, Roe v. Wade gave the states certain leeway in regulation abortions and the courts have actually increased the rights of the states to enact reasonable regulations on abortions that, as Pavone reported, "in fact end up saving lives."
"And we see hundreds upon hundreds of successfully passed and implemented state laws that have in fact saved lives, that have in fact protected taxpayers from having to fund abortion, that have protected the rights of medical personnel that don't want to be involved in the killing of babies and done have a lot of other things to slow down the progress of the abortion industry," the Catholic leader stated.
"This health care reform bill, in the minds of the abortion industry ... represents an opportunity to prop up their collapsing industry, to increase in fact the ease with which abortions are performed and funded," he continued, noting how the number of those performing abortions have drastically declined and how almost two-thirds of the free-standing abortion mills in the United States have been closed since abortion was legalized.
Jim Sedlak, executive director of STOPP International, echoed Pavone's sentiments, noting specifically why Planned Parenthood has been making strong efforts to push forward the health care reform bill and to put down those who oppose.
"Planned Parenthood right now is in a fight for their survival. If they don't get what they need in the health care plan, they're in trouble," he stated.
"They need to tap into this," added Sedlak, who is considered one of the leading experts on the harm caused by Planned Parenthood. "Thirty-four percent of their income comes from government money and they want more of that."
According to Alan Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of Planned Parenthood, when abortions are funded by taxpayers, their numbers increase by 30 percent.
"So we're not talking about 1.2 million abortions in our country every year, but 1.6 million abortions and even more," Peggy Hartshorn, president of Heartbeat International, pointed out during the webcast.
Pavone called the lobbying behind the health care reform bill by groups like Planned Parenthood "their last ditch effort to keep their industry alive."
"There are no diseases that abortion cures. There's no proven medical benefit to the procedure and they know that," he said.
Other leaders who spoke during the nearly two-hour webcast included Democrats for Life executive director Kristen Day, who assured participants that pro-life Democrats exist and are working against the health care bill's abortion proposals; Concerned Women for America president Wendy Wright, who said the bill would take the money of taxpayers to empower bureaucrats to decide "essentially who will live and who will die;" and talk show host Carmen Pate, a post-abortive woman who noted how the extent of the pain and suffering that both women and men experience after an abortion has only come to light in recent years through internet chatrooms and ministries.
"Sixty-five percent of individuals who choose abortion suffer emotional grief and trauma," Pate reported.
Citing Dr. Vincent Rue of the Institute for Abortion Recovery and Research, Pate noted how "denial of the psychological complications of abortion by abortion advocates demonstrates a lack of concern for women and exploits them."
"Women are not well-informed or prepared for the psychological problems created by abortion, and then when they are suffering from these difficulties, they are told their pain does not exist. This denial prevents the offering of assistance, denying recovery," she added.
Throughout the webcast, participants were urged to spread word about the bill and to call the Washington office and the local office of their representative and two senators following the instructions on StopTheAbortionMandate.com.
"If abortion is not excluded in health care reform legislation, then abortion, being considered an essential health benefit, will be funded in a way and to an extent that it has never been before, will nullify a lot of the state regulations that right now prevent funds from going to it and slow it down, and in fact will likely take away the rights of health care providers to refuse to be involved in this procedure," Pavone stated.
Currently, both the House and the Senate are rushing to meet their self-imposed deadline of getting bills through both chambers before leaving Washington for their annual August recess.
Presuming legislation makes it through both chambers, it would have to be melded together by House and Senate negotiators - a process that plenty of bills never survive - and then passed again in final form by both the House and the Senate. Only then can the president sign it.
Obama has said he wants a bill on his desk in October and has praised House and Senate versions of a bill to expand health care coverage to millions of Americans.
During a Rose Garden speech last week, Obama said the progress from Congress makes him hopeful but should not let lawmakers become complacent.
The president also said health care overhaul will be done this year, brushing off doubts and congressional delays.
"Don't bet against us. We are going to make this happen," he said.
Obama's top domestic priority is revamping the nation's health care system.