Monday, July 20, 2009

Vote coming soon on biggest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade

Congressional Democratic leaders are aiming to bring massive "health care reform" bills to the floor of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives during the last week in July -- bills that National Right to Life says "would result in the greatest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade."

On July 15, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee approved a massive bill sponsored by Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) on a 13-10 party line vote. A similar bill, H.R. 3200, backed by the House Democratic leadership, was approved by two House committees, with a third committee set to vote on it on or about July 21. The White House supports the Kennedy bill and H.R. 3200.

"The Kennedy bill and the House Democratic leadership bill would result in the greatest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade," said NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson. "These bills, which President Obama is pushing hard, would result in federally mandated coverage of abortion by nearly all health plans, federally mandated recruitment by abortionists by local health networks, and nullification of many state abortion laws. They would also result in federal funding of abortion on a massive scale. The pro-life movement needs to go to Condition Red on these bills, because they pose a mortal threat to the unborn and they are on a fast track to enactment."

Before approving the Kennedy bill, the Senate HELP Committee rejected a series of NRLC-backed amendments offered by pro-life Republican members of the committee. Specifically, the committee's Democrats (with the exception of Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa.) voted down an amendment by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wy.) to prevent health plans from being required to pay for and provide access to abortions, an amendment by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to prevent federal funding of abortions, and an amendment by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Ok.) to prevent nullification of many state laws regulating abortion. The pro-abortion majority even rejected a second Coburn amendment to protect the right of health-care providers to refuse to participate directly in providing abortions.

Similar pro-life amendments were voted down in the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Education and Labor Committee, as only a few Democrats joined the committees' minority Republican members in support of the unsuccessful amendments.

On July 20 or 21, the House Energy & Commerce Committee is expected to consider similar NRLC-backed pro-life amendments, proposed by Congressman Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) and Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Mi.). The members of this committee are listed here.

The imposition of sweeping pro-abortion mandates as part of “health care reform” is currently the top priority of many pro-abortion organizations, such as the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA). These organizations are pushing for the abortion mandates both in public statements and in less visible lobbying efforts. In April, the president of PPFA said that her organization intends to use the health care legislation as a "platform" to guarantee access to abortion to "all women." Likewise, the National Abortion Federation, an association of abortion providers, said, "NAF supports health care reform as a way to increase access to comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion care, for all women."

A third version of health-care restructuring legislation is still being written, behind closed doors, by members of the Senate Finance Committee. On July 1, both PPFA and NARAL sent out national legislative alerts expressing alarm that some Republican Finance Committee members were pressing for bill language to exclude abortion from the scope of the mandates and subsidies in the Finance Committee proposal. Also on July 1, the Reverend Carlton W. Veazey, president of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC), sent out an alert to that organization's e-mail list headed, "Urgent! Access to Abortion Services Threatened." The alert said, "Let there be no mistake, basic healthcare includes abortion services. . . . Reproductive healthcare, including abortion services, is an essential component of women's health, and we must act now to make sure women get a fair shake in the final healthcare reform bill." (RCRC is made up of a number of religious bodies, including the Episcopal Church, United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church USA, and United Church of Christ.)

On July 17, 2007, during Barack Obama's campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, he appeared before the annual conference of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. Speaking of his plans for "health care reform," Obama said, "in my mind, reproductive care is essential care, basic care, so it is at the center, the heart of the plan that I propose." [emphasis added] Under his plan, Obama explained, people could choose to keep their existing private health care plans, but "insurers are going to have to abide by the same rules in terms of providing comprehensive care, including reproductive care ... that's going to be absolutely vital."

For additional documentation and background information about how "health care reform" bills could have a drastic impact on abortion policies, click here.

Take action by contacting your Congressional representatives here.