Rhode Island Senators Reed and Whitehouse Claim Abortion Not in Health Care
by Steven Ertelt
August 19, 2009
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Rhode Island senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse are sending letters to constituents claiming that the government-run health care bills currently before Congress do not include abortion funding. The letter fly in the face of votes in Senate committees against amendments to eliminate the funding.
Rhode Island Right to Life is taking the Democratic lawmakers to task, telling LifeNews.com that they have "both made grossly inaccurate claims about abortion."
In a July 27 letter to constituents, Whitehouse contends "Nothing in the Affordable Health Choices Act? changes the law regarding access to abortions in America.
Reed appears to agree in his own letter to a state resident on August 17, saying the health care legislation "will…maintain existing rules and regulations that govern abortion coverage."
But Right to Life director Barth Bracy says Senators Reed and Whitehouse are either woefully misinformed or are trying to deceive their constituents.
He refers to the Kennedy health care bill that the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee voted for on July 15, prior to both letters. That panel rejected an amendment by Sen. Mike Enzi, a Wyoming Republican, to remove any authority to declare abortion as an essential benefit.
It also defeated an amendment by Sen. Orrin Hatch to prevent federal funds from being used to subsidize abortions or plans that include abortion coverage.
"It is difficult to believe that Reed and Whitehouse are unaware of these amendments since they both voted against them," Bracy says.
"Senators Reed and Whitehouse should also be aware that, once abortion is defined as a federal ‘benefit,’ other provisions of the bill could require health networks to establish new abortion-providing sites to provide adequate ‘access’ to abortion, and state laws regulating abortion might be declared invalid," he said.
Bracy also explained the abortion funding mechanism in the legislation.
"The government (public) plan and any qualifying private plan in the ‘exchange’ (federal premium subsidies program) will have to provide coverage for the ‘essential health care benefits’ to be defined by federal officials," he said.
The Rhode Island pro-life advocate said Congress has had to approve explicit provisions stopping taxpayer funding of abortion in other legislation and said it is needed here vis-a-vis the health care restructuring bills.
"History has shown that if abortion is not explicitly excluded, bureaucrats or courts will interpret silence as authorization to mandate coverage for abortion services. This is why explicit exclusions have been attached to programs like Childrens Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan (FEHBP), and Medicaid, amongst other," he said.
Ultimately, Bracy wants to know whether Rhode Island’s senators are misinformed or if they are purposefully misleading state residents.
ACTION: Contact Sens. Reed and Whitehouse and urge them to a) not mislead constituents about abortion funding and b) to support amendments to remove abortion funding from the Senate health care bills. Contact Reed at (202) 224-4642 and Whitehouse at (202) 224-2921.
Related web sites:
Rhode Island Right to Life – https://www.rirtl.org
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