Catholic Bishops Staff Challenge Obama Admin on Abortion, Health Care Mislead

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 15, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Catholic Bishops Staff Challenge Obama Admin on Abortion, Health Care Mislead

by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 15
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — Staff at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops are taking the Obama administration to task after a top presidential spokesman twice misrepresented abortion policy on health care and abortion funding. White House press secretary has yet to correct the record on his misleading claim.

As reported, Gibbs said last week during a press conference that the Hyde amendment makes it so there will be no abortion funding in the health care bills, even though the law doesn’t apply.

Richard Doerflinger, the associate director for the pro-life office at the USCCB, said all of the current bills fund abortions.

"No current health care bill approved by committee is consistent with longstanding and widely supported federal policies on abortion and conscience rights," he said.

Then he took on Gibbs’ comments.

"Contrary to recent misleading comments from some sources, this and other health care reform bills appropriate their own funds outside the scope of the annual Labor/HHS appropriations bills, and so are not covered by the Hyde amendment that prevents those bills from funding abortion coverage," he said. "This legislation needs its own provision against such funding."

Kathy Saile, the of the USCCB Office of Domestic Social Development, also commented on the bills.

“We remain hopeful that problematic provisions in the bills, particularly the Senate Finance Committee bill, can be worked out. But time is running short and if the provisions are not fixed, the bishops have been clear that they will have no choice but to oppose a final bill," she explained.

During the exchange with Gibbs last week, a reporter, Fred Lucas, challenged Gibbs on a previous answer he gave.

"The Catholic bishops have repeatedly said that the Hyde amendment would not apply to the health care bill and yesterday in the letter that they sent to Congress they said that if language expressly prohibiting abortion funding is not added to the health care bill, they will vigorously — ‘vigorously oppose’ — that’s a quote — the bill," he said.

"My question on that, does the President support the bishops on this? And to eliminate this as an issue, will he call on Congress to have an explicit prohibition of abortion funding?" Lucas asked.

Gibbs responded: "My answer isn’t different than it was on Wednesday."

That’s when Gibbs said "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."

"Again, there’s a fairly well-documented federal law that prevents it," he added, wrongly referring to Hyde.

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