Bob Casey Claims No Abortion Funding in Senate Health Care Bill, Draws Rebuke
by Steven Ertelt
September 3, 2009
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — One of the two Democrats in the U.S. Senate to claim a pro-life position on abortion is drawing fire from pro-life advocates today for a comment he made in a recent town hall. Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey told constituents that the Senate version of the government-run health care bill doesn’t fund abortions.
Ironically, Casey serves on the same Senate committee that opened the door for taxpayer-funding of abortions and voted down abortion funding limits he supported.
In a Wednesday forum at East Stroudsburg University, Casey predicted that a government-run health care bill will go the Senate floor but will not fund abortions.
When a constituent told Casey she is worried the bill will allow the federal government to pay for abortions, according to the Pocono Record, he told her, "The concern you have is well placed."
Then Casey said, "There’s nothing in this bill that speaks to abortion."
As Douglas Johnson, the legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, tells LifeNews.com, "it is folly to pretend otherwise" — especially for Casey.
"As a member of Senate HELP Committee, Senator Casey actually voted for amendments to fix these problems, but every other Democrat on the committee voted against" amendments designed to stop the abortion funding.
In fact, in July, the panel adopted an amendment sponsored by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat, that would allow abortion businesses to receive funds under the health care restructuring bill.
When pressed by Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, she admitted that her language would force health insurance companies to contract with abortion groups like Planned Parenthood.
Hatch asked, "Would this include abortion providers? I mean, it looks to me like you’re expanding it to… for instance, Planned Parenthood. Would that put them into this system?"
"It would include women’s health clinics that provide comprehensive services and under the definition of a woman’s health clinic, it would include, uh, it would include, uh, Planned, uh, Parenthood clinics. It would, um, it does not expand in any way expand a service," Mikulski responded.
Mikulski admitted that the bill "would provide for any service deemed medically necessary or medically appropriate" and pro-life advocates point out the Obama administration could easily declare abortions medically necessary or appropriate.
Later during the hearing, Hatch asked Mikulski if she would be willing to support making the bill abortion neutral in exchange for support for the bill. She would have none of it.
Hatch asked, "Madam Chairman, would you be willing to put some language in [about] not including abortion services? Then I think you would have more support."
She responded, "No, I would not, uh, be willing to do that at this time."
Mikulski’s amendment to include abortion coverage in the bill passed by a razor-thin 12-11 margin with Republicans opposing the amendment along with Casey.
The day after the vote on the Mikulski amendment, Casey voted for an amendment from Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming to remove the "abortion mandate" from the health care bill and another from Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah to remove the abortion subsidies.
The committee also rejected an amendment from Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma to protect state laws limiting abortions and abortion funding from being nullified by federal law under the health care bill and a second that would protect the conscience rights of health care workers.
In fact, at the time the Milulski amendment was approved, Casey appeared to agree with pro-life advocates that abortion funding was not appropriate.
"The way it is written is too broad," Casey said. "The way it is written could be interpreted down the road to include something like abortion."
Late Thursday, Casey spokesman Larry Smar responded to LifeNews.com about the apparent discrepency in the senator’s comments.
"Senator Casey continues to believe that health care reform can be achieved without changing the current status quo regarding federal funding of abortion," he said. "That is, we can expand health insurance coverage and control costs without providing federal funding or federally mandated coverage of abortion in health insurance plans."
"The Affordable Health Choices Act, as reported out by the HELP Committee, does not explicitly authorize federal funding of abortion nor does it mandate abortion coverage in insurance plans," he added.
Smar went on saying, "These are issues which have not been resolved and which must be dealt with in clear, unambiguous language, as the legislative process continues."
That the Senate version of the govenrment-run bill doesn’t fund abortions is news to NRLC’s Johnson.
He told LifeNews.com that its analysis of the Senate bill Casey refers to shows that it will "result in the greatest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade."
"It would result in federally mandated coverage of abortion by nearly all health plans, federally mandated recruitment of abortionists by local health networks, and nullification of many state abortion laws," Johnson added. ‘It would also result in federal funding of abortion on a massive scale."
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