(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama, in an online conference call with BlogTalkRadio on Wednesday, urged liberal religious groups to “spread the facts and speak the truth” about health care reform. Obama said it's "not true" that health care reform will allow government funding of abortion.
But pro-life leaders responded to the conference call by noting that health care reform plans in both chambers of Congress would allow federal funds to pay for abortions.
“I know there’s been a lot of misinformation in this debate. And there are some folks out here who are, frankly, bearing false witness,” Obama said on BlogTalkRadio.
“You’ve heard this is all going to mean government funding of abortion,” Obama said. “Not true.”
The conference call was sponsored by Faithful America, a coalition of liberal religious groups, that was launched in 2004 to collect contributions to run ads on Arabic-language satellite television “expressing regret to Muslims for abuses committed by Americans at Abu Ghraib prison.”
David Bereit, national director of the 40 Days for Life pro-life campaign, said in a joint statement with other pro-life leaders following Obama’s online address: “President Obama stated that abortion funding would not be included in health care reform. Talk’s cheap. Is the president willing to include language in any health care reform proposal or bill that would explicitly exclude funding of abortion coverage?”
In addition to federally funded abortions, Obama also said claims that health care could be rationed for the elderly to cut costs and that government-run health programs would provide free health care for illegal aliens were false.
“These are all fabrications that have been put out there in order to discourage people from meeting what I consider to be a core ethical and moral obligation,” Obama said. “And that is that we look out for one another, that I am my brother’s keeper and my sister’s keeper, and that the wealthiest nation on earth right now, we are neglecting to live up to that call.”
However, critics charge the most vulnerable in society are the ones that health care legislation should protect first.
“The call for reform as a ‘moral imperative’ rings hollow with Americans, because the overwhelming majority firmly oppose taxpayer funding for abortion coverage,” Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life, said about Obama’s address. “Abortion is not health care. Real health care respects life.”
“As the Hippocratic Oath reminds us, health care grounded in a moral imperative protects the most vulnerable among us, including the unborn and the elderly,” Yoest said. “Real health care does not fund the destruction of unborn children, and it does not delay or deny care to the sick, elderly, and weak among us – but that is the prospect we currently face.”
Obama has not proposed his own health care reform plan, but as CNSNews.com reported earlier, the House and Senate bills proposed so far would allow federal funds to be used for abortion and allow private insurers – even those serving federally funded patients – to decide whether to pay for abortions.
Amendments proposed in both chambers of Congress that would explicitly prohibit taxpayer dollars being used for abortions have been defeated.
The Faithful America Web site says it supports “a new way forward on abortion” that Obama outlined in his controversial speech at Notre Dame’s commencement ceremony in May.
The president said people on all sides of the issue could find “common ground” by reducing unwanted pregnancy, contraceptive distribution, and support for women who choose adoption.
Tony Perkins, president of the pro-life Family Research Council, said the sponsors of Obama’s online appearance are not addressing the moral issues of proposed health care reform.
“The religious left that has blindly put their faith in this administration’s attempted take over of health care has repeatedly said they do not want to get into the weeds on the policy aspects of health care reform,” Perkins said after listening to Obama’s address. “Instead, they say their focus is on the moral mandate that all people have health care.”
“Ensuring that taxpayers are not forced to fund abortions and that the conscience rights of health care workers are protected is not getting into the weeds, but rather it is ensuring that health care reform is kept on a higher moral plain,” Perkins said.