Wednesday, July 22, 2009

This Week Could Determine Abortion in Healthcare

Several competing voices are making demands this week about abortion coverage in health care reform. I'll take them basically chronologically.

Last night, formerly pro-life Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) and three other Democrats sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) seeking "common ground" on funding abortion in health care. Here's the gist:
We believe that a common ground solution is to include language in the final legislation that makes clear that no insurance company will be required to pay for an abortion except in extraordinary circumstances -- nor will they be prohibited from paying for an abortion, so long as health insurance plans offered in the exchange that choose to provide abortion coverage pay for those services with funds that are separate and distinct from any federal subsidies.

The problem with Ryan's proposal is that it simply makes abortion funding fungible - a fact not even lost on this AP reporter:
However, it's unclear whether insurance companies could keep federal subsidies separate from other funds they receive from individuals and employers to cover premiums.

Speaking to Ben Smith at Politico:
Ryan said he hadn't won the support of national right-to-life organization for his proposal, but that "the traditional pro-life groups no longer speak for pro-life people. They're completely out of touch."

Ryan's proposal is significantly different from one made earlier by 20 demonstrably pro-life Democrats in a letter to Pelosi June 25:
"We cannot support any health care reform proposal unless it explicitly excludes abortion from the scope of any government-defined or subsidized health insurance plan. . ."

This morning, Pro-Life Caucus co chair Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) and Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) held a press conference representing a bi-partisan pro-life coalition of congressmen. Following is Pitts' statement:
“We stand before you today to highlight an issue that is of the highest level of importance – promoting and protecting the value of human life.

This issue is not about party politics. It is not about obstructionism. It is about saving lives and protecting pro-life Americans across the country.

We stand here today – Republicans and Democrats – to speak for the millions of Americans who do not want their taxpayer dollars to be used to finance the destruction of human life. We stand here today – Republicans and Democrats – to speak out against forcing Americans to participate in plans that cover abortion.

As currently drafted, the proposed health care reform legislation will mandate and subsidize abortion. It will require virtually every American to have a plan that meets the “minimum health benefit standards.”

Without an explicit exclusion, abortion will be determined to be included in these benefit standards and will be forced on Americans all across the country. In the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Education and Labor Committee, amendments were offered to clarify that abortion mandates and subsidies should not be a part of health care reform. However, these amendments were rejected.

And over the weekend, when asked if he would rule out funding for abortion under the legislation, OMB Director Peter Orszag answered, “I’m not prepared to rule it out.” However, even if the administration has a change of heart and decides to rule out requiring coverage of abortion, the courts will step in and do so. In the case of Medicaid, the courts ruled that abortion fit within many of the broad mandatory categories mentioned and had to be covered. As a result, Medicaid paid for 300,000 abortions per year until the Hyde Amendment was passed.

This plan will expand public funding for health care beyond the jurisdiction of the Hyde Amendment, so we cannot rely on the annual appropriations provision to prevent massive taxpayer funding for abortion.

The issue here is simple – American taxpayers should not be forced to pay for abortion. Nor should they be forced to be unwitting participants as the abortion industry uses this law to mainstream the destruction of human life into America’s health care industry.

That is why I am working with my colleagues to offer amendments in the Committee that would protect Americans from being forced into plans that cover abortion and would ensure that taxpayers are not forced to pay for abortion.

And that is why my colleagues and I stand before you today – to ask that we not make health care about destroying life, but that we rather continue to work to save lives.”

Rep. Stupak also spoke but did not have a prepared text. His office will provide a transcript later today and we'll post it as an update.

Tomorrow, two big events.

First, as reported earlier, formerly pro-life Rep. Tim Ryan and way pro-choice Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) will unveil their massive Planned Parenthood bailout bill at an 11:30 a.m. (Eastern) press conference tomorrow. Their "Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act" is heavily weighted toward the former with lots of cash for contraception and teen sex-ed which is why NARAL and Planned Parenthood will be at the conference to support the bill (along with a couple of useful idiot ministers):
Congressman Ryan and DeLauro will be joined by supporters of the bill from across the abortion divide including Dr. Joel C. Hunter, Senior Pastor at Northland Church and board member of the World Evangelical Alliance and the National Association of Evangelicals, representatives from NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and Pastor Derrick Harkins of the Nineteenth Street Baptist Church and board member of World Relief, the humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals. These supporters are among dozens of prominent pro-choice and pro-life leaders from the religious community and the secular advocacy world who are united in their support for this bill.

Lastly, a major pro-life event is planned for tomorrow at 9:00 p.m. Eastern and you can participate. Visit for information and to register for the telecast. Speakers include:

KRISTEN DAY, Democrats for Life of America
DOUGLAS JOHNSON, National Right to Life Committee
CONGRESSMAN CHRIS SMITH, Congressional Pro-life Caucus Co-Chair
DAY GARDNER, National Black Pro-Life Union
FR. FRANK PAVONE, Priests for Life
DR. CHARMAINE YOEST, Americans United for Life

And many more. Here's a bit of what they'll be talking about:
Powerful abortion industry lobbyists and Wasington, D.C., politicians have just launched a massive effort to mandate taxpayer-funded abortions as part of their proposed trillion-dollar healthcare takeover.

This political power-grab is an effort to implement one of the cornerstones of the "Freedom of Choice Act" (FOCA), and could lead to a massive abortion industry bailout -- something the overwhelming majority of Americans oppose, and certainly cannot afford in these tough economic times.

Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion chain, received more than $350 million in taxpayer funding last year and ended the year with a $112 million surplus. . .

During this nationwide event, you will discover:

* The shocking facts about the sweeping legislation that the political power brokers are trying to ram through before Congress goes on summer recess...
* The devastating implications of the proposed mandates -- facts the abortion industry doesn't want Americans to hear...
* Why respected leaders, national organizations, and pro-life people are joining together in record numbers to challenge this attempted power-grab...
* The exact action steps YOU can take to make a difference at this crucial moment...

Go there and sign up. This is the week to make a difference.