Parsing Obama: We Can’t Take His Word on Abortion Funding in Health Care

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 11, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Parsing Obama: We Can’t Take His Word on Abortion Funding in Health Care

by Laura Echevarria Opinion Columnist
September 11, 2009 Note: Laura Echevarria is a opinion columnist. She is the former Director of Media Relations and a spokesperson for the National Right to Life Committee and has been a radio announcer, freelance writer active in local politics.

Should we take the president at his word when he says that no federal funds will be used to pay for abortion in the health care plan?

Well, let’s see what this actually translates into when we view it without the rose-colored glasses the media has been wearing for almost two years now.

“no”—in the world of Barack Obama this could mean “no, not right now,” “no, maybe later,” “no for today but ask me tomorrow”

“Federal funds”—this is money that comes directly from the federal government

“will be used”—tie this with “no” and “federal funds” and it sounds like a winner, however, no one ever said the health care legislation would funded exclusively with federal funds. The health care legislation and those pushing it would mandate coverage for a variety of things (including abortion) but not necessarily pay for these things with federal funds. The plan calls for making insurance companies cover these conditions, diseases or treatments—abortion would be considered part of “reproductive care” and would be mandated.

For some people, the fact that the president said it makes it true. But with this president, the opposite is true: if he says it, you must question it. Planned Parenthood firmly believes that abortions will be covered under any health care plan pushed forward by Democrats and they have no reason to think otherwise. The president himself spoke before Planned Parenthood in July 2007 and following his speech the president was asked,

You know that rights and access and rights and ability have to go hand in hand. And we know that health care reform is an important part of your agenda. Could you talk—and give us some specifics about how reproductive health care and women’s health care is going to fit into and be a part of primary care for women in your health care reform plans and how Planned Parenthood, as a safety net provider, will continue to be a part of the health care safety net for women and families across the country.

To this Barack Obama, the candidate, replied:

Well, look, in my mind reproductive care is essential care, basic care so it is at the center, the heart of the plan that I propose. . .

But, essentially, what we are doing is to say that we’re going to set up a public plan that all persons and all women can access if they don’t have health insurance. It’ll be a plan that will provide all essential services, including reproductive services, as well as mental health services and disease management services. [scattered applause]

Now, I know I’m limited on time but I just want to expand on that second part of your question which is role that organizations like Planned Parenthood play. Obviously, my hope under a universal health care system is that everybody’s got access to basic care and we have less of a patchwork quilt of services. That—I still believe that it is important for organizations like Planned Parenthood to be part of that system.

Barack Obama has been a big supporter of Planned Parenthood in the past. He blocked the Born Alive Infants Protection Act while a senator in Illinois and opposed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban.

Would it be any wonder that he would fulfill a campaign promise to Planned Parenthood by making the organization, and its affiliates, part of a primary care network, awarding them more government contracts (one-third of the non-profit Planned Parenthood’s annual $1 billion in revenue comes from such state and federal contracts) and setting them up to play a significant role in “reproductive care?”

No one should be surprised. What is surprising is the number of people who inferred from what the president said this week that abortion would not be covered in the health care plan.

And to those people, I want to tell them about a deal I have for them. I have this lake-front property out in the Sahara Desert…

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