White House Official Won’t Retract Obama Misstatement on Senator, Euthanasia

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 13, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

White House Official Won’t Retract Obama Misstatement on Senator, Euthanasia

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
August 13
, 2009

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — President Barack Obama’s top spokesman is defending his misstatement that saw him erroneously use a Republican senator to justify a provision in the house health care bill that has been criticized for giving financial incentive to doctors who could promote euthanasia or rationing.

During Obama’s health care forum in New Hampshire on Tuesday, he used Georgia senator Johnny Isakson to support the House bill and its provision.

In an attempt to allay the concerns, Obama said the Republican lawmaker supports the specific provision. As LifeNews.com reported on Wednesday, it turns out that Isakson strongly opposes both the bill and its provision and condemned Obama for suggesting otherwise.

Later on Wednesday, during his daily press briefing, Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs defended Obama’s comments and claimed he and Isakson are in agreement.

"I don’t think that’s what the President was implying," Gibbs said of Obama’s attempts to say Isakson agreed with the provision, known as Section 1233 in the bill.

Gibbs attempted to defend Obama’s comments by saying Obama merely meant that Isakson once served in the House, not that he supported the House health care bill.

"I think the President mentioned that Mr. Isakson had been in the House — that may have been some of the confusion. He was a member of — did, obviously, represent Atlanta suburbs before becoming a U.S. senator from Georgia," he said.

"I think — whether this is uncomfortable or not, I think he and the President agree," Gibbs concluded.

Isakson spokeswoman Joan Kirchner told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper after the press conference that Obama and Gibbs still have it wrong.

“Johnny supports living wills and durable power of attorney. He supports individuals making the choice for themselves — whether to get one, what should be in it, and whom to seek advice from in drafting it," she said.

"He opposes the current House bill because it is the government deciding who has the conversation, how often they have the conversation, and what is to be discussed in that conversation," she added.

Isakson’s office said initially: "Isakson vehemently opposes the House and Senate health care bills, and he played no role in drafting language added to the House bill by House Democrats calling for the government to incentivize doctors by offering them money to conduct end-of-life counseling."

Later, Isakson went further.

“This is what happens when the President and members of Congress don’t read the bills. The White House and others are merely attempting to deflect attention from the intense negativity caused by their unpopular policies. I never consulted with the White House in this process and had no role whatsoever in the House Democrats’ bill,” Isakson said.

Isakson did not sponsor the controversial House language but is the bringer of an amendment in the Senate that is quite different.

His amendment would allow patients to receive the end-of-life counseling but does not provide financial motivation to physicians who participate in Medicare to urge them to do so.

“My Senate amendment simply puts health care choices back in the hands of the individual and allows them to consider if they so choose a living will or durable power of attorney," Isakson previously told the Washington Post.

"The House provision is merely another ill-advised attempt at more government mandates, more government intrusion, and more government involvement in what should be an individual choice," he says.

The House version of the government-run health care system, HR 3200, contains sections that are causing concern for pro-life advocates.

The bill would financially reward physicians who have end-of-life discussions with patients, even if they encourage patients to consider assisted suicide or to revoking life saving medical treatment or food and water.

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.