Obama Spokesman Falsely Claims Hyde Amendment Stops Abortion in Health Care

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 7, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Obama Spokesman Falsely Claims Hyde Amendment Stops Abortion in Health Care

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
October 7
, 2009

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — White House spokesman Robert Gibbs mislead reporters today during his afternoon press briefing with a false claim that the Hyde amendment would prohibit taxpayer-funding of abortions in the Congressional health care bills. However, the long-standing law does not apply to the legislation.

CNS News reporter Fred Lucas asked Gibbs, the top spokesman for President Barack Obama, about a letter the Catholic bishops recently sent Congress pointing out that each of the current health care bills includes abortion subsidies.

"In a letter to senators last week the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said that, I’m quoting, ‘So far the health-reform bills considered in committee, including the new Senate Finance Committee bill, have not met the president’s challenge of barring the use of federal dollars for abortion,’" Lucas said. "Is that statement wrong?"

Gibbs replied, "Well, I don’t want to get me into trouble at church, but I would mention there’s a law that precludes the use of federal funds for abortion. That isn’t going to be changed in these health care bills."

"There have been several amendments that would explicitly bar [federal funding for] abortions that were rejected," Lucas responded.

Gibbs replied, "Again, there’s a fairly well-documented federal law that prevents it."

However, the fairly well-documented federal law is the Hyde amendment and it only applies to the Medicaid program that provides health care funds for poor Americans.

Douglas Johnson, the legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee called any attempt to paint the Hyde Amendment as a way to limit abortion funding in the health care bills a false portrayal.

"This is a dodge. The Hyde Amendment is not a permanent law, but merely a ‘limitation amendment’ that is patched on to the annual appropriations bill for Health and Human Services," Johnson says.

"H.R. 3200 directly appropriates massive subsidies for premiums and cost-sharing that would not flow through the HHS appropriations bill and thus would not be subject to the Hyde Amendment, even in the short term," he previously told LifeNews.com.

Also, should abortion advocates in Congress successfully overturn the Hyde amendment someday, its protections would fail even if it did cover the health care bills, Johnson explained.

"Thus, the only way to prevent H.R. 3200 from resulting in massive federal subsidies for elective abortion is to add Hyde-type language to the bill itself, just as Congress did when it created the SCHIP program in 1997," Johnson concludes. "Unless such an amendment is adopted, a vote for H.R. 3200 is a vote for tax-subsidized abortion on demand."

Johnson has said the same thing about the Senate health care bills, including the Kennedy and Baucus legislation.

So what law would guide abortion funding in these new health care programs?

The Capps Amendment, which a House committee added to HR 3200 this summer, would set forth the guidelines that Johnson says allow expansive abortion funding. https://www.lifenews.com/nat5306.html

"Under the Capps Amendment, the Obama Administration would be explicitly authorized to pay for all abortions, from day one, under the big new ‘public option’ program," he tells LifeNews.com. "This means that a person would not be allowed to enroll in the new government plan unless he or she is willing to pay an additional premium to cover the cost of elective abortions — in effect, an abortion surcharge."

"Indeed, the Capps Amendment explicitly requires that the federal official who runs the program must calculate the total cost of abortions and increase the premium for all enrollees enough to pay for them," he adds.

"The amendment specifies that this surcharge cannot be less than $12 per enrollee per year, but the amendment does not set an upper limit. Again, this premium specifically for elective abortions is not optional," he adds.

"Thus, under the Obama-backed bill, a federal agency would be writing checks to abortionists to pay for elective abortions, with funds drawn on a federal Treasury account," Johnson concludes. "This is ‘government funding of abortion,’ pure and simple."

"A vote for H.R. 3200 is indeed a vote for government funding of abortion on a huge scale," he says.

Related web sites:
National Right to Life – https://www.NRLC.org
Documentation – https://www.nrlc.org/AHC/Index.html

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