White House: Obama Would Defer to "Experts" on Abortion in Govt Health Care

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 21, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

White House: Obama Would Defer to "Experts" on Abortion in Govt Health Care

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
July 21
, 2009

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A top White House official says President Barack Obama would defer to unnamed "medical experts" to determine whether the government-run health care plan Congress is crafting would cover abortions. Stopping taxpayer-funded abortions and abortion coverage in health care has emerged as a top pro-life priority.

Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs answered a question from CNS News about the controversy.

"I think when it comes to designing a benefit package, I think the president and this administration agree that that’s–a benefit package is better left to experts in the medical field to determine how best and what procedures to cover," Gibbs said.

Gibbs didn’t name what experts would determine the coverage, but current bills in Congress set up an administrative entity that the Obama administration would run that would make those abortion decisions.

On Fox News Sunday, Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag was slightly more forthright, if only by appearing to admit that the Obama administration would be making the decision, not some outside experts.

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."

Meanwhile, Gibbs also began telling CNS News that Obama supports the Hyde amendment, which prohibits abortion funding — though only within Medicaid, but appeared to stop short and merely said the policy is current law.

"I know the president believes that current policy–certainly current policy for Medicaid prohibits federal funding for abortions. That’s the Hyde amendment," Gibbs said.

Gibbs also would not comment on an amendment that a pro-life senator offered during a Senate committee’s debate on abortion and health care.

“Well, I have not seen the Hatch amendment," he said.

As LifeNews.com reported, the Senate HELP Committee ultimately voted down the Hatch amendment and other pro-life amendments on a 12-11 vote. The amendments would have ensured that the health care reform package doesn’t fund or promote abortions.

Tomorrow, a House committee will consider amendments to make sure a government-funded health care restructuring plan does not include abortion.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee takes up the bill for possible amendments and pro-life Rep. Joe Pitts, a Pennsylvania Republican, plans to offer three to make the bill abortion neutral. Other amendments from pro-life lawmakers are also expected.

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.

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.

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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