Catholic Bishops Differ From Pro-Life Response to Obama Abortion Funding Claim

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 14, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Catholic Bishops Differ From Pro-Life Groups’ Response to Obama Abortion Funding Claim

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 14
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — Last week, President Barack Obama said in his prime time speech on health care "reform" that he doesn’t want abortion funding included in the final bill that Congress may approve. Most pro-life groups greeted Obama’s claims with guffaws and sarcastic laughter, but the nation’s Catholics bishops didn’t.

They are apparently taking the claim at face value and say they think Obama will actually follow through on his promise to keep taxpayer-funding out of the health care bills, where it currently resides.

In his address to a joint session of Congress, Obama said "One more misunderstanding I want to clear up — under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions."

Under the current legislation in both the House and Senate, abortion funding is included as HR 3200 contains the Capps Amendment that paves the way for massive abortion funding.

Every national pro-life group that provided comment on Obama’s speech expressed significant skepticism.

But Richard Doerflinger, the associate director of Pro-Life Activities at the USCCB, issued a statement saying he thinks Obama will follow through.

“We especially welcome the President’s commitment to exclude federal funding of abortion, and to maintain existing federal laws protecting conscience rights in health care,” he said.

“We believe that incorporating essential and longstanding federal laws on these issues into any new proposal will strengthen support for health care reform. We will work with Congress and the Administration to ensure that these protections are clearly reflected in new legislation, so no one is required to pay for or take part in abortion as a result of health care reform," he added.

Doerflinger says he is hopeful because his impression of Obama’s remarks is different from those of every other pro-life group. While other groups believe Obama referred to existing legislation in Congress, Doerflinger assumes Obama is talking about new legislation or new amendments to the bills.

“The president isn’t talking about the current bills. He’s talking about what he’s going to do," he told the National Catholic Register. "We hope this is a good faith effort to resolve the issue. We will see what the new bill includes." asked Douglas Johnson, the legislative director for National Right to Life and the main pro-life lobbyist exposing the abortion funding in the Congressional health care bills about what he thinks Obama will do.

Johnson says the pro-life community need only look at Obama’s background, record and previous comments for an indication of his future direction.

"President Obama promised Planned Parenthood that abortion would be part of his public plan, and he continues to employ deceptive terminology and misdirection to attempt fulfill that promise," Johnson says.

"In his speech to the joint session, he further invested himself in the ludicrous pretense that an insurance plan run entirely by the federal Department of Health and Human Services could pay abortionists with funds drawn on the federal Treasury, but without spending ‘federal funds,’" he explained.

"In reality, the funds would be federal funds, as truly as any funds collected by the IRS, and this would be direct federal funding of abortion. No one should underestimate this president’s desire to deliver on this promises to the pro-abortion lobby," he concluded.

Most pro-life leaders say Obama may insert new language in the bills to make it appear more limits are placed on abortion funding, but they expect exceptions that will be wide enough to allow massive funding.

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