House Panel Will Vote Soon on Promoting Abortion in Health Care Reform Bill
by Steven Ertelt
July 17, 2009
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Another Congressional committee will consider an amendment to make sure a government-funded health care restructuring plan does not include abortion. Keeping abortion out of health care is quickly becoming the main objective of the pro-life community as the debate heats up.
With pro-abortion President Barack Obama asking members of the House and Senate to get him a health care bill quickly, pro-life lawmakers have been scrambling to keep abortion out of it.
They, along with national pro-life organizations, are very concerned that the final product will leave it up to the Obama administration to decide if abortions will be publicly funded or insurance companies forced to cover it.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee could see the next vote on abortion and health care as it considered HR 3200 on either Monday or Tuesday.
When the committee takes up the bill for possible amendments, pro-life Rep. Joe Pitts, a Pennsylvania Republican, plans to offer three to make the bill abortion neutral.
Under the proposed legislation, virtually every individual will be required to have health care coverage that meets minimum benefits standards established by the administration.
Those minimum benefits will include abortion unless Congress acts to explicitly exclude abortion from any government mandated coverage or taxpayer funded health plan. Historical experience with federal statutes demonstrates that if abortion is not explicitly excluded, administrative agencies and the courts will mandate it.
"There is no doubt that this process will result in mandated coverage of abortion, along with federal subsidies for such coverage, unless Congress explicitly excludes abortion," Pitts said in a statement LifeNews.com received.
Pitts said Congress can’t leave the determination on abortion up to the Obama administration because Obama has said reproductive care is essential care, basic care" and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has added, reproductive health includes access to abortion.
Pitts said that pro-life advocates had to include amendments to annual spending bills covering Medicaid and the Indian Health Service because the federal government began paying for abortions without Congressional approval.
When it comes to HR 3200, Pitts says the bill must include abortion exclusions.
"Under this bill, any individual who does not have a plan that meets the minimum benefit standards will be forced to pay a 2.5 percent tax penalty. And any employer who does not provide coverage that meets these standards will pay up to an 8 percent tax penalty," he said. "This means that Americans who do not want a plan that pays for abortion will be penalized for it."
"In addition to mandating coverage of abortion, this bill will provide massive subsidies for abortion. It will authorize and appropriate funding for premium subsidies," he added.
When Pitts submits his amendments, they will have the support of pro-life groups like the National Right to Life Committee and the Family Research Council.
Douglas Johnson, of NRLC, says the Tri-Committee health care bill "contains provisions that will result in federally mandated coverage of abortion on demand in virtually all of America’s health plans."
Once abortion is established as a federal "essential benefit," the bill will also require "access" to elective abortion, which will require many issuers to establish and staff new abortion-providing sites, Johnson explains.
And state laws that limit abortions, such as waiting periods and parental notification requirements "may be nullified as conflicting with the purposes of the federal law," he explains.
One of Pitts’ amendments will nullify the parts of the bill that would result in mandatory insurance coverage of abortion, another will prevent federal subsidies for elective abortion, and the third will protect state pro-life laws.
Johnson tells LifeNews.com the vote will be very close with a small group of Democrats determining the outcome. They include Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania, Mike Ross of Arkansas, Jim Matheson of Utah, Charles Melancon of Louisiana, John Barrow of Georgia, and Baron Hill of Indiana.
Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council is also on board.
He says his group is asking lawmakers to back amendments that would "prevent taxpayers from being forced to subsidize abortions within the Democrats’ massive health care reform bill."
"Even Planned Parenthood’s Guttmacher Institute recently stated that if abortion is taxpayer funded, abortions would rise by at least 30 percent," he said. "Subsidizing abortions does nothing to increase the lack of access women have to abortion alternatives which are necessary to provide the support and care needed to carry their babies to term."
ACTION: Contact members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and urge strong support for the Pitts amendment to exclude abortion from the health care bill, HR 3200. Call 202-224-3121 or go to https://www.House.gov for specific contact information.
Sign Up for Free Pro-Life News From LifeNews.com
Daily Pro-Life News Report Twice-Weekly Pro-Life
News Report Receive a free daily email report from LifeNews.com with the latest pro-life news stories on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here. Receive a free twice-weekly email report with the latest pro-life news headlines on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here.