House Democrats’ Phony Amendment Claims to Remove Abortion From Health Care

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 3, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

House Democrats’ Phony Amendment Claims to Remove Abortion From Health Care

by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 3
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — House Democrats are working on yet another phony amendment that they claim will remove government funding of abortions from the health care reform bill. However, it appears the Ellsworth amendment does nothing to remove the massive new abortion-funding program in H.R. 3962.

The new bill that Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled last week and that the House is expected to vote on later this week funds abortions with taxpayer dollars in two ways.

First, it sets up the public option — a government-run health care plan that will pay for abortions — and it funds abortions by giving members of the public affordability credits that can be used to pay for abortions.

Led by Rep. Bart Stupak, a pro-life Democrat from Michigan, pro-life groups were hoping Pelosi would allow a vote on an authentic amendment that would curb all abortion funding in the bill.

Pelosi has proposed rules for debate on the health care bill that prohibit Stupak from offering his amendment. Instead, Democratic leaders will put forward a manager’s amendment that will contain language crafted jointly by Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a pro-abortion stalwart from Connecticut, and Rep. Brad Ellsworth, a pro-life Democrat from Indiana who is in jeopardy of losing that descriptor.

At a caucus meeting on Monday night, Democratic leaders presented the draft text of Ellsworth-DeLauro amendment and the changes it makes in the abortion-funding provisions of the bill are strictly cosmetic.

National Right to Life legislative director Douglas Johnson emailed Tuesday morning.

He confirmed that, even with the Pelosi-backed amendment, the new federal government insurance program, the "public option," would still be explicitly authorized to pay for all elective abortions by language on page 110 of the bill and the federal premium subsidies ("affordability credits") could still be used to purchase private health plans that cover elective abortion.

"We are dismayed that Mr. Ellsworth yesterday apparently proposed language that in substance will allow the new federal government insurance program, the ‘public option,’ to pay for abortion on demand," he said.

"The pro-abortion House Democratic leadership is using Ellworth’s phony language to undercut the real pro-life amendment [from Stupak]," Johnson added. "The Ellsworth language is the legislative equivalent of putting pancake makeup on a cancer, rather than performing lifesaving surgery."

Despite Johnson’s analysis, some lawmakers are already perpetuating the myth that the Ellsworth-DeLauro amendment would stop abortion funding.

"It makes it clear that no federal dollars can be used for abortion," Rep. Barron Hill, an Indiana Democrat who is not pro-life, told National Journal.

This is the second time House Democrats have promoted a phony amendment to the health care restructuring bills that doesn’t truly prohibit abortion funding.

The Capps amendment was added to one of the committee-approved bills and part of it remains in the new Pelosi measure the House will consider. The Ellsworth language is an update to the Capps amendment.

Johnson is calling on pro-life advocates to contact Rep. Ellsworth and urge him to not go along with the phony amendment but to stick to his pro-life principles and support only the Stupak amendment.

ACTION: Contact Rep. Ellsworth at 202-225-4636 and urge him to not participate in creating a phony amendment that does not stop abortion funding in health care. Also, contact your member of Congress and urge opposition to the Ellsworth amendment (or the manager’s amendment) and ask for a vote on the Stupak amendment to truly ban abortion funding. Find contact information at

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