(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama unveiled his plan for health care reform on whitehouse.gov on Monday, but pro-life legislators and advocates said the “new” proposal mostly mirrors the Senate bill and, in particular, would allow for tax dollars to be used to fund health plans that cover abortion.
“The health bill passed by the Senate in December (H.R. 3590) had become, by the conclusion of the Senate amendment process, the most expansively pro-abortion bill ever brought to the floor of either house of Congress since Roe v. Wade,” Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), said in a statement issued on Monday.
Johnson said Obama’s bill will not include the same prohibitions set forth in the Stupak amendment--named after Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.)--which was part of the health care legislation passed earlier by the House of Representatives. Instead, Obama’s bill allows federal funds to subsidize abortions through the structuring of programs and insurance plans.
“If all of the President's changes were made, the resulting legislation would allow direct federal funding of abortion-on-demand through community health centers, would institute federal subsidies for private health plans that cover abortion-on-demand, including some federally administered plans, and would authorize federal mandates that would require even non-subsidized private plans to cover elective abortion,” Douglas said.
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the release of Obama’s health care proposal ahead of Thursday’s televised discussion among the president, Democrats, and select Republicans could be counterproductive. He also said pro-life legislators are committed to creating legislation that reflects what Americans want in health care reform.
“Republicans are also standing with the American people by calling for health care reform to protect human life and not use taxpayer money to fund abortion,” Boehner said in a statement. “The Republican bill would codify the Hyde Amendment and prohibit all authorized and appropriated federal funds from being used to pay for abortion, which the President’s proposal would allow.”
“Pro-life Democrats in the House have already pledged to vote against this provision,” said Boehner. “Health care reform should be an opportunity to protect human life--not end it--and the American people agree.”
When asked about the issue by ABC’s Jake Tapper at Monday’s press briefing at the White House, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the president does not want to pay for abortions but does not want to limit women’s choices.
“And we're not looking to change what is the principle that has been in place for a very long time, which is federal dollars are not used to subsidize abortions," Gibbs said. "And I want to make sure that the provision that emerges meets that test---that we are not in some way sneaking in funding for abortions but, on the other hand, that we're not restricting women's insurance choices….”
Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, said that with today’s release of the president’s health care plan, he can no longer say it is Congress that is promoting federally funded abortions.
“Every time President Obama’s spokesmen are asked about the Senate health care bill that authorizes federal funds for abortion, they reply that none of the bills put forth are the president’s own,” Donohue said. “Moreover, the president has said that he would never sign a health care bill that funds abortion.”
“While it is true that the pro-abortion camp will not be happy with the president for not striking some restrictions it deplores, the fact remains that President Obama could have adopted the pro-life friendly language of the House bill,” Donohue said. “The fact that he didn’t is what matters most.”