Pelosi Maintains That Senate Health Care Bill Doesn’t Fund Abortion
March 10, 2010House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) continued to maintain the view that there is no taxpayer funding for abortion in the Senate health care bill, despite being contradicted by other members of Congress and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
“There is no federally funded abortion,” Pelosi, a Catholic, said during her Mar. 4 press conference. “That is the law of the land. It has not changed in this (Senate) bill. There is no change in the access to abortion -- no more, or no less. It is abortion-neutral in terms of access or diminution of access.”
“If you believe that there should be no federal funding of abortion, and if you believe there should be no change in the policy, and if you believe that we need health care for all Americans, we will pass the bill -- and we will pass the bill,” Pelosi said.
As reported by CNSNews.com, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops opposes the Senate health care bill because it allows for taxpayer funding of health plans that cover abortion.
In a Dec. 22 letter to the U.S. Senate, the USCCB detailed that Senate bill “violates longstanding federal policy against the use of federal funds for elective abortions and health plans that include such abortions. … Federal funds will help subsidize, and in some cases a federal agency will facilitate and promote, health plans that cover elective abortions. All purchasers of such plans will be required to pay for other people’s abortions in a very direct and explicit way, through a separate premium payment designed solely to pay for abortion. There is no provision for individuals to opt out of this abortion payment in federally subsidized plans, so people will be required by law to pay for other people’s abortions.”
In late February, in response to Pelosi’s claim that the Senate health care bill does not fund abortion and that she had spoken with the “Catholic bishops,” Richard Doerflinger, associate director of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities for the USCCB, told CNSNews.com that “anyone” who has talked with them would know that the Senate bill allows taxpayer money to be used to pay for health plans that cover abortion.
“We do not know how anyone who has spoken to the bishops could conclude that the Senate health care bill does not fund abortions,” Doerflinger told CNSNews.com in an e-mail statement.
“As the bishops have said in their letters to Congress, abortion problems in the Senate bill are so serious that, despite our strong support for expanding access to health care, we will have to oppose the bill unless they are resolved,” said Doerflinger.
Following her March 4 press conference, CNSNews.com asked Pelosi’s press secretary, Nadeam Elshami, if the Catholic bishops were wrong to say that under the Senate health care bill there is federally funded abortion. Elshami declined to answer.
“I’m going to just refer you back to (Pelosi’s) answer,” Elshami said.
The Senate rejected language by Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) that mirrored the pro-life Stupak amendment in the House legislation, which passed by a bi-partisan majority on Nov. 7. The Stupak amendment, sponsored by Rep. Bart Stupak (D.-Mich.) prohibits federal money from going to any part of a health care plan which covers abortion.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a 13-page document explaining why the Senate bill allows tax dollars to funded abortion.
“Of the two bills, only the House bill conforms to current law on abortion funding,” reads the document. They credit that to Stupak’s amendment.
“Thus under the Senate bill, notwithstanding ‘the segregation of funds’ provision, federal subsidies will be used to help expand access nationwide to abortion coverage,” reads the document.
On March 4, Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) released a statement warning that President Obama and congressional Democrats are seeking to thwart the will of the majority of Americans that there not be taxpayer funding of abortion.
“To force their government takeover of health care through Congress, House Democrats will have to pass the Senate bill, which includes a loophole that would permit government funding of abortion and an ‘abortion premium’ fee that forces taxpayers to subsidize insurance policies covering abortion,” reads Boehner’s statement.
“This is no ordinary, run-of-the-mill poison pill: This is American taxpayers being forced to pay for abortion,” said Boehner. “While Democrats are behind closed doors making all kinds of last-minute backroom deals to fix problems with the Senate bill, one issue reconciliation cannot address is abortion.”
A transcript of the exchange with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on March 4 follows below:
Reporter: “One issue you didn’t mention is abortion, and that apparently is not going to be a part of this corrections package. So, you heard Bart Stupak and I’m sure you’ve talked to about a dozen or so anti-abortion Democrats who say, ‘Forget it. You’re not going to have our vote anymore if this doesn’t change.’ How are you going to deal with that?”
Pelosi: “As a matter of fact, they haven’t said that to me.”
Reporter: “They said it to the press.”
Pelosi: “But let me say this: This is not about abortion. This is a bill about providing quality affordable health care for all Americans. It’s about bringing many more women into the health care loop in terms of their access to health care. I will not have it turn into a debate on—let me say clearly—we all agree on the three following points. If you agree on these three points, then we’ll have a health care bill, and we will.
“One is there is no federally funded abortion. That is the law of the land. It has not changed in this bill. There is no change in the access to abortion -- no more, or no less. It is abortion-neutral in terms of access or diminution of access. And third, we want to pass a health care bill to provide much more health care for all Americans and especially women who are discriminated against in terms of health insurance and pay more. So if you believe that there should be no federal funding of abortion, and if you believe there should be no change in the policy, and if you believe that we need health care for all Americans, we will pass the bill, and we will pass the bill.”
Reporter: “But there are a number of Democrats who simply don’t agree with that. Can you pass this without them?”
Pelosi: “You know what, again, this is the city of—when people think there isn’t going to be a bill, they can take whatever position they want. But now they know there’s going to be a bill. And these members are saying, ‘Let’s talk.’”
CNSNews.com: “Last week and today, Speaker Pelosi said that the senate bill does not fund abortion—
Nadeam Elshami, Press Secretary: “That’s correct—“
CNSNews.com: “And that she spoke with the Catholic bishops, but the—”
Nadeam Elshami, Press Secretary: “You know what? I would refer back to her answer. That’s it. She gave a pretty long answer to that, I would just refer you to that.”
CNSNews.com: “Well, the bishops said that it does in fact fund abortion. Are they wrong?”
Nadeam Elshami, Press Secretary: “I’m going to refer you back to her answer, so.”