Obama Admin Misleads on HCR Abortion Funding Via Community Health Centers
by Steven Ertelt
March 15, 2010
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The Obama administration has released a new memo that misleads the public on the abortion funding via community health centers found in the Senate health care bill. It takes a shot at National Right to Life, but the venerable pro-life group pushed saying no limits leave open abortion funding.
At issue is a provision in the Senate health care bill that allows $7 billion in funding for Community Health Centers — something President Barack Obama expanded in his request for changes to the bill.
The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) and other pro-life groups have condemned the provision because the money could be funneled to abortion businesses to pay for abortions and will not be subject to provisions like the Hyde Amendment that stops abortion funding.
Douglas Johnson, the legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee, explains "the Reproductive Health Access Project and the Abortion Access Project are already actively campaigning for Community Health Centers to perform elective abortions."
The New York Times indicates the Obama administration has responded in an internal Health and Human Services department memo.
Obama officials respond by saying the Senate health care bill would not change the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits abortion funding under the HHS appropriations bill but does not apply to the Senate bill.
The president and Secretary Sebelius have repeatedly stated their strong commitment to ensuring that health insurance reform does not change the status quo on abortion policy, the memo states.
There have been concerns that the Senate bill does not include an explicit provision that would subject these new funds to the abortion-related restrictions under the Hyde Amendment, the memo continues. Regardless of whether the Senate bill would do so, there have existed for over 30 years regulations that prohibit federal funds from being used for abortion services.
The Times says the memo goes on to say that current regulations restricted the $2 billion community health centers already receive when it comes to abortions..
Johnson told LifeNews.com today that federal regulations don’t always hold up in court.
"Under past Republican administrations, attempts to employ administrative authority — regulations, for example — to extend restrictions on abortion beyond the explicit statutory prohibitions enacted by Congress, usually have not fared well in the federal courts," he says. "There is no reason to believe that a pro-abortion Administration would have greater success in applying anti-abortion restrictions to funds where Congress has failed to do so."
"Thus, the new HHS memorandum should be recognized as part of an effort to whitewash the abortion policy problems with the Senate health bill, not as a predictor of what will happen with the Community Health Service (CHC) funds if the bill is enacted," Johnson responds.
Johnson also says the analysis the Obama administration and the New York Times cites relies on a press release from the National Association of Community Health Centers that asserted CHCs "do not plan to, nor are they seeking to, become providers of abortion."
But Johnson says the association has no power of its own to determine abortion policy — because it comes from Congress.
"But the NACHC has no authority to govern what services are provided any of the approximately 1,250 CHCs that are funded by the federal government, nor should it be assumed that any CHC that decided to provide abortions would feel obligated to notify the association," he says.
NRLC’s Johnson also referred LifeNews.com to his past comments on the efforts by pro-abortion groups to push community health centers to do abortions.
"It is noteworthy that Reproductive Health Access Project (RHAP) has been conducting an active national campaign to encourage CHCs to expand into providing abortions," he said.
The Times and the Obama administration relied on an analysis by the PolitiFact web site to back up its claims, but Johnson says the analysis is incomplete.
"NRLC vigorously called the RHAP campaign to the attention of PolitiFact when we were initially contacted on the subject; yet, remarkably, the PolitiFact ‘analysis’ failed to refer to the RHAP material, even in its lengthy list of sources," Johnson told LifeNews.com.
Johnson also noted that the House-approved health care bill applied abortion funding limits to CHCs via the Stupak amendment.
Without such an amendment specifically limiting the CHC funds on abortion in the Senate bill, NRLC and other pro-life groups are worried about the possibility that they could eventually be used to fund abortions.
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