The American Medical Association and the pro-life movement have sometimes been at odds with each other. But when it comes to the nomination of pro-life physican and Congressman Tom Price to be the Secretary of Health and Human Services they are on the same side.
In a column today, Dr. Patrice Harris, the board chair of the American Medical Association, laid out the case as to why the organization supports Dr. Price to lead the department. That support comes despite the AMA’s support for Obamacare, which includes rationing components as well as abortion funding.
The AMA supports the nomination of Dr. Tom Price based on decades of interactions with him as a member of the AMA House of Delegates, Georgia state senator and as a member of the House of Representatives since 2005. Over these years, there have been important policy issues on which we agreed (medical liability reform) and others on which we disagreed (passage of the Affordable Care Act). Two things that have been consistent are his understanding of the many challenges facing patients and physicians today, and his willingness to listen directly to concerns expressed by the AMA and other physician organizations.
An orthopaedic surgeon for nearly twenty years, Dr. Price would be the first physician to serve as secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services since President George H.W. Bush appointed Louis W. Sullivan, MD, in 1989, and only the third doctor to serve as secretary of the department in its 63-year history. That physician background will provide important perspective within the president’s cabinet. Too often, health policy makers and regulators give short shrift to the real-world impact their plans and decisions can have on how patient care is delivered.
A mainstay through the years has been Dr. Price’s commitment to seek out and hear the concerns expressed by the AMA and other physician organizations. Even so, our support for Dr. Price to lead HHS should not be taken as an endorsement of every policy position he has advocated.
The conversation surrounding President-elect Trump’s HHS choice caused me to reflect on a similar episode in the history of U.S. health care. When Ronald Reagan named pediatric surgeon C. Everett Koop, MD, as surgeon general, the move prompted a flurry of opposition based on Dr. Koop’s fervent opposition to abortion.
Despite that early resistance, Dr. Koop went on to become a powerful and constructive voice during the AIDS epidemic, helping to advance education, prevention and treatment responses that reduced stigma, deaths and suffering. He also released eight reports on tobacco use’s baleful health consequences and promoted the goal of a smoke-free society. Dr. Koop’s one-time opponents later cited him as a role model for how the U.S. surgeon general can help the nation face serious health care challenges.
The AMA will actively engage Dr. Price, other leaders in the incoming Trump administration and Congress in discussions on the health system’s future direction.
The pro-life movement will actively support Price — in part because Congressman Price strongly supports defunding the Planned Parenthood abortion business.
America’s leading abortion company was exposed selling the body parts of aborted babies for profit, Congressman Price called the practice “barbaric” and said the abortion business ought to be defended.
Price, who is a physician, voted for Congressional legislation to defund the Planned Parenthood abortion company that pro-abortion President Barack Obama eventually vetoed. In a statement in association with that vote, price said the following:
“Anyone who has not viewed the disturbing videos recently released should do so. It is only with that knowledge that one can know, in horrific detail, the barbaric practices being committed with federal taxpayer dollars. These actions cross a moral line beyond comprehension. The revealing picture is of a supported routine for abortion practices that result in the harvesting and sale of baby parts, some of which are secured in barbaric process. This, if seen, will shake anyone’s conscience. Today, I voted to end taxpayer funding for the organization responsible and add criminal penalties in the event of born alive abortions.
“This effort is not about party ideology; it is about common, human decency and who we are as a people. I applaud the House for the steps taken today and encourage Congress to take further action in the days to come.”
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Price has a long pro-life voting record as a member of Congress and has voted pro life 100% of the time according to the National Right to Life Committee.
A leading pro-life group applauded Price’s nomination.
“Representative Tom Price is an excellent choice for Secretary of Health and Human Services,” said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser in a statement on Monday night. “He has an 100 percent pro-life record and is well positioned to champion truly comprehensive health care. He helped lead the charge to defund Planned Parenthood through budget reconciliation, setting the stage for President-elect Trump and a pro-life Congress to reallocate those funds to support comprehensive women’s healthcare. As HHS Secretary, he will play a key role in developing a robust health care reform proposal that protects life and consciences, while promoting options for low-income individuals and families.”
During a debate over legislation to stop taxpayer funding of abortion, Congressman Price laid out his pro-life views.
“This legislation prohibits taxpayer funding of elective abortions, no matter where in the federal system that might occur. This is a position supported by the majority of Americans in a bipartisan manner. We have a responsibility, through our government, to protect the most vulnerable among us, not the least of whom are the unborn. This bill is an important step in the right direction,” he said.