Associated Press Reverses Itself, Admits Health Care Bills Include Abortion Funding
by Steven Ertelt
August 5, 2009
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Two days after LifeNews.com exposed an Associated Press article that mislead its readers on the abortion funding contained in the government-run health care plans, AP has backtracked. The news service is now reporting that the bills Congress is considering will result in taxpayer-funded abortions.
AP features a new article today with the headline, "Gov’t insurance would allow coverage for abortion."
Reporter Ricardo Alonsozaldivar writes, "Health care legislation before Congress would allow a new government-sponsored insurance plan to cover abortions, a decision that would affect millions of women and recast federal policy on the divisive issue."
That’s a far cry from the weekend story where AP writer Charles Babington wrote a "fact check" that claimed it is "not clear" if abortion funding is included in the legislation.
The Babington story was so bad that Douglas Johnson, the legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, told LifeNews.com, "We respectfully ask that AP retract this distorted" article.
While the first AP piece claimed the health care bill "could create a government-run insurance program, or insurance ‘exchanges,’ that would not involve Medicaid" that could involve abortion funding, the new piece says that is now the case.
AP admitted that the Capps amendment a House committee adopted last week "would allow the public plan to cover abortion" with "dollars from beneficiary premiums." It added, "Likewise, private plans in the new insurance exchange could opt to cover abortion."
Johnson told LifeNews.com today that the AP piece "confirms what we’ve been saying: Under both Obama-backed bills, House and Senate, the federal government would run a huge system of subsidizing elective abortion."
The new AP article includes comments from Johnson about the Capps amendment, which some abortion advocates are falsely touting as a compromise that will prevent abortion funding.
"It’s a sham," he said. "It’s a bookkeeping scheme. The plan pays for abortion, and the government subsidizes the plan."
It also includes a quote from Richard Doerflinger, associate director of pro-life activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
"We want to see people who have no health insurance get it, but this is a sticking point," he says. "We don’t want health care reform to be the vehicle for mandating abortion."
"You can have a result where nobody has to pay for other people’s abortions," he said of a real compromise that promotes health care without abortion funding or insurance mandates.
The Associated Press also admitted that the Senate bill covers abortions as well: "Staff aides confirmed that the public plan — and private insurance offered in the exchange — would be allowed to cover abortion, without funding restrictions."
Although the new article admits that abortion funding exists in the health care plan, AP does not correct its misread of President Barack Obama’s comments where it claimed he doesn’t want abortion funding included.
The first piece had AP claiming that "Obama recently told CBS that the nation should continue a tradition of not financing abortions as part of government-funded health care.’"
But Johnson told LifeNews.com: "If Obama had actually said that, it would have been a very newsworthy statement indeed. But Obama didn’t say it. AP has grossly distorted what Obama actually said."
As LifeNews.com reported, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric asked Obama, "Do you favor a government option that would cover abortions?"
Obama declined to answer the question and said he would "rather not wade into" the issue of abortion funding in health care. He talked about the "tradition" of excluding funding for abortions but did not say he supported the tradition.
Johnson commented on AP’s failure to correct the false impression its original story left.
"Unfortunately, the AP has not yet retracted its claim," Johnson said. "Indeed, senior White House staff persons have been working against the pro-life amendments that would prevent the bills from paying for abortion."
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