Conservatives Prepare for Next Round in Health Care Battle

Christian conservatives were quick to oppose the new House health care bill, which they say includes federal funds for elective abortion and mandates providing information about physician-assisted suicide in some states.

"Speaker Pelosi might as well rename her bill the 'Government Funded Abortions for America Act,'" Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said as he lambasted the new proposal.

The 1,990-page health care bill, unveiled Thursday, removes the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding for abortion except in the cases of rape, incest, or danger to the physical health of the mother.

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According to FRC, the bill – which would cost about $1 trillion over ten years – also subsidizes health plans that cover all elective abortions.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was also criticized for removing a provision that prevents medical professionals from offering information on physician-assisted suicide when giving patients end-of-life options.

"From womb to tomb, this legislation would use funds garnered from taxpayers to fund abortions and encourage seniors to end their lives early in states such as Oregon and Washington (where physician-assisted suicide already occurs)," Perkins said.

Likewise, Focus on the Family and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have spoken out against health care reform that includes abortion coverage after the release of the House bill.

"The bishops want health care reform, but they recoil at any expansion of abortion," said Helen Osman, USCCB secretary for communications, in a statement Friday. "Most Americans don't want to pay for other people's abortions via health care either. This impasse on the road to reform of health care can be broken if Congress writes in language that assures that the Hyde Amendment law continues to guide U.S. federal spending policy."

But pro-life groups are encouraged by a group of Democrats, led by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), who vow to oppose health care reform that would allow federal funding for abortion.

Recently, Stupak announced that he has at least 40 Democrats who will vote against the bill if it fails to insert language similar to the Hyde Amendment. That group of Democrats along with Republicans could prevent the House bill from coming to the floor for a vote.

"We believe, and the majority of American people believe, we should not be using public funds to pay for abortion coverage in health care," Stupak told the Washington Journal. "Somewhere in this process we have to have an opportunity to vote our conscience."

He acknowledges that Speaker Pelosi is unhappy with his actions.

"I'm comfortable where I'm at," Stupak said. "This is who I am. It's reflective of my district. If it costs me my seat, so be it."

The House health package dwarfs the federal spending proposed by the Senate version. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the House bill calls for $1.055 trillion in federal spending on health care, compared to the $829 billion in the Senate bill, according to The Washington Post.

But not only is the House bill more expensive, it also does less to offset the price tag. The Senate bill significantly reduces tax subsidies for health care, in turn gaining $200 billion over the next decade, the CBO reported. Added to other reduced tax breaks for health care and then subtracted from the $829 billion price tag results in an increase federal spending of $85 billion over the next ten years.

By comparison, the House bill, using the same calculations, would result in a federal spending increase of $598 billion on health care over the same time period.

The Affordable Health Care for America Act, H.R. 3962 – which extends coverage to 96 percent of Americans – could be on the House floor for vote as soon as Nov. 5.

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