(CNSNews.com) - Democrats in both the House and the Senate want abortion be included as a health benefit in both government and private insurance plans, leading to millions more abortions, a Republican lawmaker warned.
Taxpayer money would be used to pay for abortions in the government-run health care option.
But congressional Republicans, strongly opposed to an abortion requirement in health care reform, are pushing for a ban on using taxpayer money to pay for such procedures.
On Tuesday, pro-life members of Congress said the plan’s approach to abortion is essentially the same as the Freedom of Choice Act, which would strip states’ right to limit abortion, establish abortion on demand across the country and allow federal funds to pay for the procedure.
“It’s really trying to pass the Freedom of Choice Act through this legislation and wipe out all state law -- state law that abides by the Constitution, abides by everything that was said by the Supreme Court under Roe v. Wade,” Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) said Tuesday at a Capitol Hill press conference.
“Despite the fact that large majorities of Americans don’t want to fund abortion, the Obama-Kennedy-Dingle bill will nevertheless force every taxpayer and every premium payer in the United States to pay for and facilitate every abortion in the country,” Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) said.
“Despite President Obama’s statement to the pope just last week that he wants to reduce abortion, the ugly truth is that the so-called health care reform bill, if enacted and if not amended, will lead to millions of additional dead children and wounded mothers,” Smith said.
Gingrey and Smith joined other pro-life members of Congress in support of Rep. Joe Pitts’ (R-Pa.) sponsorship of an amendment to the House version of Obama’s health care plan, which is slated for mark-up this week.
A similar amendment offered by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to the Senate health care legislation banning federally funded abortions was rejected last week.
Pitts, chairman of the House Values Action Team, said history shows that if legislation doesn’t include language to specifically exclude abortion, federal funds will be used, as was the case before Rep. Henry Hyde proposed the Hyde amendment to prohibit the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions through Medicaid.
“This legislation will mandate and subsidize abortion and then tax Americans who stand for one of the very principles that this nation was founded on – the right to life,” Pitts said.
Representatives at the conference said language specifically prohibiting the use of federal funds for abortion is also vital because of an “advisory committee” that will be responsible for determining what basic services will be included in the plan after it becomes law.
“The legislation vests new, huge, sweeping powers in an Obama-appointed committee tasked with establishing what is called essential health benefits that all plans must include,” Smith said. “Of course all that comes after the enactment and the signing into law the legislation.”
Smith added that abortion will be included in those benefits.
“What we want to stress here is this benefits committee – which is unelected, and there will be minimal oversight – when they put together their minimum benefits of which abortion absolutely will be included on demand,” he said.
The woman who will head that committee is Regina Benjamin, a Catholic and the woman Obama appointed as his surgeon general on Monday.
Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, said Benjamin should speak out about abortion and Obama’s health care plan.
“Dr. Benjamin should not wait until the Senate considers her appointment to let the public know where she stands,” Donohue said. “As a practicing Catholic, she cannot chair a committee that would support mandated abortion coverage in employer insurance plans. There is no ‘common ground’ on this issue.”
At the press conference, Rep. Mary Fallin (R-Okla.) called on President Obama to address the abortion aspect of his health care plan.
“If the president is serious about passing true health care reform, he needs to step up today and clarify his position,” Fallin said. “In fact, I’m calling on the president today to clarify his position about whether he wants abortion to be included in his health care reform.
"The majority of Americans think that life is sacred and it begins at conception, and if this plan is not fixed to make it very clear that it will not fund abortion, I will not support his legislation," Fallin said.
When asked by CNSNews.com about the success of Pitt’s amendment, Pitt said aside from the pro-life Republicans who support it, some pro-life Democrats are speaking out against abortion being covered in the health care plan.
On June 25, 19 Democrats, 11 of whom are Catholic, sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) saying they will not vote for the health care plan unless it explicitly excludes abortion funding.
Representatives at the press conference said not only will the plan without Pitt’s amendment increase the number of abortions, but will likely also increase the number of abortion providers given language in the bill that calls for access to health care, which they said includes abortions as the bill now stands.
“The coming weeks will be the most important, I believe, for our pro-life movement since the passage of Roe v. Wade,” said Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio), head of the House Pro-Life Women’s Caucus.