President Obama Claims He Doesn’t Want Abortion Funding in Health Care Bill

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 22, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

President Obama Claims He Doesn’t Want Abortion Funding in Health Care Bill

by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 22
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — In a Tuesday night interview, President Barack Obama claimed he does not want abortion funding in the final health care bill Congress may send him. The issues of taxpayer-funding of abortions and mandates on abortion coverage are unifying pro-life groups in a massive effort to amend or halt the legislation.

In recent days, top Obama administration officials have taking divergent positions on abortion mandates and funding.

Obama’s top budget chief said he would not rule out abortion funding, but his press secretary said abortion funding would be left up to a panel of unnamed "medical experts" to decide.

Attempting to put the issue to bed, Obama told CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric that he would "rather not wade into" the issue of abortion funding in health care and that he is "not trying to micro-manage what benefits are covered."

"I’m pro-choice, but I think we also have the tradition in this town, historically, of not financing abortions as part of government-funded health care," he said. "My main focus is making sure that people have options of high quality care at the lowest possible price."

Obama’s claims to the contrary are not likely to halt pro-life efforts to make sure any government-run health care bill has specific abortion exclusions that prevent taxpayer funding and insurance coverage mandates.

They also want to make sure state laws like parental involvement, informed consent and waiting periods are not overturned by the bill and that the conscience rights of health care professionals are protected.

The main problem with the bills are that they allow either pro-abortion HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the Surgeon General, or a bureaucratic advisory panel to determine whether abortion is part of the "essential benefits" the government-run health care plan will cover or that private insurance plans must cover.

Compounding the concerns, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said on Monday that unnamed "medical experts" would make those abortion decisions.

"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.

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."

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