Obama Administration Won’t Rule Out Abortion Funding in National Health Care Bill
by Steven Ertelt
July 20, 2009
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A top Obama administration official said in an interview on Sunday that he is not ruling out taxpayer funding or coverage for abortions in a national health care restructuring bill. The the Obama administration is considering funding abortions is prompting major abortion battles in the House and Senate.
Peter Orszag, the head of the Office of Budget and Management, talked with Fox News Sunday about abortion funding.
The Obama budget chief would not rule out funding abortions but said he doesn’t have an answer right now about whether abortion funding will or won’t be included.
"I think that that will wind up being part of the debate. I am not prepared to say explicitly that right now. It’s obviously a controversial issue, and it’s one of the questions that is playing out in this debate," Orszag said. "I’m not prepared to rule it out."
Congress is currently considering a handful of health care reform bills that will eventually be combined into one package that will be sent to Obama for his signature. The bills currently set up the decision-making for inclusion of abortion with the Obama administration.
On June 19, the House Committees on Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, and Education and Labor announced that a new Obama-run Advisory Committee will decide which services will be covered.
Sen. Judd Gregg, a New Hampshire Republican urged the Obama administration not to fund abortions in the government health care package and said doing so could hurt the debate to reform the health care system.
"No matter what your views are on abortion, you shouldn’t ask people to use their tax dollars if they think that abortion is taking a life — to use their tax dollars for those purpose — for that purpose," he told Fox News.
"I would hate to see the health care debate go down over that issue," Gregg added. "We do really need health care reform, and it has to be substantive … So hopefully we won’t get ourselves wrapped around the wheel of abortion in this debate."
Early this week, another House committee will consider an amendment to make sure a government-funded health care restructuring plan does not include abortion.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee could see the next vote on abortion and health care as it considers HR 3200 on either today 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.
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.
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