Pro-lifers gathered Sunday on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol to kick off 27 hours of prayer as Congress and the nation remains divided over the current health care reform bill.
Until 10 p.m. Monday, participants of the prayer effort will be praying for divine intervention in the national health care debate - specifically that taxpayer money will not be used to fund abortions.
"If public monies are used to pay for abortions, it would add at least 25 years to our struggle to end abortion in America because abortion would then become an entitlement," says the Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, one of the sponsors of the prayer effort.
"We … are convinced that Congress wants to use this health care bill to sneak in provisions which will publicly finance abortion and human killing research," adds Peter Shinn, president of Pro-Life Unity.
Though President Obama has insisted that "no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place" under "our plan," Factcheck.org and other independent agencies have noted that the current House bill would allow abortions to be covered by a federal plan and by federally subsidized private plans though it does not require federal funds to be used to support abortion coverage.
"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," reported Brooks Jackson, director of Factcheck.org, a project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania that takes no position on whether the health care bill should or should not allow coverage for abortions.
Though conservative lawmakers have so far failed to add language to the bill that would prevent the federal funding of abortion, Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Sunday that the president intends to sign a bill that explicitly rules out any public funding for abortion.
Sebelius told ABC's George Stephanopoulos that she thinks the legislative language of the final bill will reflect what Obama has told the American people.
According to Mahoney, participants this week's prayer effort will take time to specifically pray for President Obama to fulfill his public pledge before Congress and the American people that not one penny of taxpayer money will be used for to pay for abortions and the conscience clause on abortion will remain in place for health care providers.
"We will be a bold public and prophetic witness that abortion is not health care and that health care reform should bring healing and compassion not violence and brokenness. As people of faith, we do not have to sit on the sidelines and watch as events unfold on the world state. Rather, through prayer, fasting and repentance we can help shape history," Mahoney added.
In addition to the Christian Defense Coalition and Pro-Life Unity, other sponsors of the 27-hour prayer effort include Generation Life, Survivors, Operation Rescue, The National Black Pro-Life Union, Faith and Action, The Network of Politically Active Christians and the Family Research Council.