Conflicting Statements on Subsidized Abortion Haunt Health Care Reform

On a conference call with progressive religious leaders late Wednesday afternoon, President Barack Obama aggressively challenged his Republican critics’ “misinformation” blitz, arguing the claim by many social conservative groups that his health care proposal would subsidize and mandate reproductive care is a blatant fabrication, and insisted they were “bearing false witness.”

“You’ve heard this is all going to mean government funding of abortion,” the President said. “Not true.”

But as with many of Obama’s statements regarding his health care proposal, his seemingly forthright claim is simply ‘not true.’ Before a crowd of Planned Parenthood executives and contributors in 2007, then-Senator Obama explicitly pledged to not yield on “the fundamental issue” of abortion, adding that “reproductive care is basic care, it is essential care.”

The right to an abortion, Obama said, “is at the center and at the heart of the plan that I proposed.”

“Essentially, what we are doing is to say that we’re gonna set up a public plan that all persons and all women can access if they don’t have health insurance. It will be a plan that will provide all essential services, including reproductive services,” Obama said to applause.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins has been on Capitol Hill working with pro-life members of Congress to include amendments that would prohibit tax-payer funded abortions, but says despite the President’s fierce protestations, the House and Senate health care reform plans will likely subsidize reproductive care unless Obama intervenes.

“The president knows very well that pro-abortion House and Senate committees rejected every single amendment to keep abortion funding out of the health-care overhaul,” Perkins said in a statement issued shortly after Obama’s open appeal to the progressive religious community ended.

“President Obama stated that abortion funding in health-care reform is a ‘distraction.’ If that is the case, then why not end this so-called ‘distraction’ and amend the bill to explicitly prohibit abortion funding and coverage with his health care plan?”

Following the President’s conference call, pro-life advocates quickly drew attention to an amendment offered by Democratic Congresswoman Lois Capps (CA-23) to allow for subsidized reproductive care under the House health care reform plan. The amendment, which the National Right to Life committee predicts will result in “the greatest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade,” is unlikely to be removed from the final bill, according to Republican aides on Capitol Hill.

It is unfortunate not that Obama would chastise those who bear “false witness” and later, as if reflexively, wholly misrepresent his health care proposal, but rather that such dishonest and duplicitous rhetoric has become the norm with President Obama that I am not stunned by his latest actions.

Cross-posted at Skepticians.com.

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