Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Latest health care developments -- abortion still funded on massive scale

From National Right to Life:

WASHINGTON (September 30, 2009) -- Events this week in Congress provide fresh proof that top Democratic leaders in Congress are pushing forward with plans to establish massive new programs that would pay for elective abortions and subsidize insurance coverage of abortions -- which, if achieved, would break from decades of federal policy.

"Bills currently advancing in Congress would establish direct federal funding of elective abortion, and tax subsidies for private insurance that covers elective abortions -- both drastic breaks from longstanding federal policy," commented Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), the federation of right-to-life organizations in all 50 states. "Ongoing events on Capitol Hill demonstrate the hollowness of President Obama's public assurances that he does not seek government funding of abortion."

The Senate Finance Committee today continued a series of meetings to amend the "America's Healthy Future Act," a health care restructuring bill proposed by Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mt.). The bill has a number of major abortion-related problems. Most of today's abortion-related debate in the committee focused on a proposed new program that would use tax money to help purchase private health insurance for about 19 million Americans. The bill specifically authorizes the use of these federal funds to pay premiums on private plans that cover elective abortions -- a departure from longstanding federal policy.

Pro-life Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) pointed out that federal subsidies for coverage of elective abortions are not currently allowed under Medicaid, the Federal Employees Health Benefits program, or other federal health programs. Hatch offered an amendment, backed by NRLC, that would have prohibited federal funds from subsidizing plans that cover elective abortions, but would have allowed insurers to sell abortion coverage through separate supplemental policies not subsidized by federal funds. The Hatch Amendment failed, 10-13. Baucus and all other Democrats on the committee opposed the Hatch Amendment, except for Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND), who supported it. All of the Republicans on the committee supported the Hatch Amendment, except for Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), who opposed it.

By an identical roll call, the committee also rejected another Hatch Amendment that would have codified the Hyde-Weldon Amendment, which is a temporary law prohibiting any level of government from discriminating against health-care providers that do not wish to participate in providing abortions.

On July 15, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee approved a different health care bill (S. 1679), which also contains provisions that would result in sweeping pro-abortion mandates and government subsidies for elective abortion. NRLC's Johnson commented, "Today's Finance Committee votes mean that the combined bill that will reach the Senate floor in a few weeks surely will contain provisions that would result in both pro-abortion federal mandates and huge federal abortion subsidies. However, the full Senate must vote on the pro-abortion subsidies, and other pro-abortion components as well."

Meanwhile, in the House, Reps. Bart Stupak (D-Mi.), Joseph Pitts (R-Pa.), and 181 other members of the U.S. House on September 28 sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.), pointing out that the health care bill approved in the House Energy and Commerce Committee (H.R. 3200), including an amendment offered by Rep. Lois Capps (D-Ca.), "radically departs from the current federal government policy of not paying for elective abortion or subsidizing plans that cover abortion." The letter notes, among other things, that the Capps language "explicitly authorizes the federal government (the Department of Health and Human Services) to directly fund elective abortions, with federal (public) funds drawn on a federal Treasury account," through the proposed "public plan."

The signers -- 25 Democrats and 158 Republicans -- urged Pelosi to allow a vote on the Stupak-Pitts Amendment to prohibit coverage of elective abortions by the public plan and subsidies for private plans that cover elective abortions. Seven other House Democrats have sent Pelosi similar letters in recent days, for a total of 32 Democrats.

In response, on September 29 Rep. Capps sent Pelosi a letter in which she argued that the proposed public plan really would not be paying for abortions because "money is transmitted to a private contractor who then reimburses physicians." Johnson called Capps' argument "truly laughable -- it is like arguing that it is not the government paying for the abortions if the government sends the payment via the Internet."

In reality, Johnson said, "The proposed public plan will be entirely a branch of the federal government, all of its funds will be federal funds, and when it pays for abortions, that will be direct government funding of abortion."

Johnson also noted that the nearly united opposition to the Hatch Amendment by Senate Finance Committee Democrats, and the continued resistance by the House Democratic leadership to allowing a vote on the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, "support our theory that President Obama is misleading the public when he says he does not want federal dollars used for abortion. In an attempt to keep his 2007 promises to Planned Parenthood, the President is trying to smuggle sweeping pro-abortion policies into law behind smokescreens of contrived language, verbal misdirection, and outright misrepresentation."

To go to the Abortion in Health Care index, click here.
To go to the NRLC Home page, click here.
To go to the NRLC Legislative Action Center, click here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dan Rather to speak at local Planned Parenthood event

Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather will be the keynote speaker at an October 13 Planned Parenthood fundraiser in Minneapolis.

MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach said this: "For years viewers watched Dan Rather deliver the news of the day believing he was objective and fair, while the whole time he harbored anti-life views. ... Clearly Dan Rather has never been objective, in fact his support of Planned Parenthood proves how radical his views truly are."

At NewsBusters, Matthew Balan looks at some of Rather's record:
The CBS anchor did not make much of an effort to hide his left-wing views on the issue of abortion. Almost twenty years ago, on July 23, 1990, Rather asked then-Senator Paul Simon, "Is there any doubt in your mind that [David Souter's, who was nominated to the Supreme Court that year] views pretty well parallel those of John Sununu's, which means he's anti-abortion or anti-women's rights, whichever way you want to put it?"

Eight years later, the anchor issued a glowing tribute to Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger: "One thing America didn't talk about early in the century was sex. Margaret Sanger changed that. She was a true revolutionary who went to jail for the crime of promoting birth control, a phrase she coined. ... For half a century, Margaret Sanger spoke passionately in favor of women's rights, taking on all the enemies of birth control, including the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church."
Sanger, of course, was a eugenicist who wanted to "weed out the unfit." But she's still a hero to staunch abortion advocates, including, apparently, Dan Rather.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Responding to misinformation on health care

See here for recent rebuttals from NRLC to misinformation regarding the current health care "reform" bills, also pasted below:

The pro-abortion public relations machine is in full throttle in support of the abortion-related components of the health care bills that are being pushed by the White House and top congressional Democrats.

1. A detailed outline of Senator Max Baucus' proposed health care bill was released on September 16. The proposal has many objectionable components pertaining to both abortion and rationing. The initial NRLC statement on the bill is here. A follow up release on the "death spiral" provision is here.

2. Over the last few days, a number of websites, including Huffington Post, The Hill, and, have published an essay by Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-Ca.) titled, "The Truth About the Capps Amendment." We recommend that you read the piece on, here. That site has a permissive comment policy, and NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson has challenged Rep. Capps in a detailed rebuttal.

3. The Baltimore Sun ran (twice!) an op ed by Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) President Cecile Richards, titled, "Plan Wouldn't Fund Abortion," most recently on September 13. A rebuttal by NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson titled "Planned Parenthood's Hidden Agenda on Health Reform" was submitted to the Sun but ignored. However, on September 16, the Winona (Mn.) Daily News, which also ran the original Richards piece, published the rebuttal, under the title "What Does Cecile Richards Really Want?," here.

4. Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus did her bit for the Capps Amendment in a column that ran in the Post on September 9, and subsequently in some other papers. National Review Online published a rebuttal by NRLC's Douglas Johnson here, also on September 9.

5. Laurie Rubiner, vice president for public policy and advocacy for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), posted an essay titled "Bridging the Divide on Health Care for Women," dated September 9, 2009, on Daily Kos, and on, where a detailed rebuttal by NRLC's Douglas Johnson was posted, here.

6. Veteran pro-abortion activist Frances Kissling posted an essay on several websites, "Exploiting the Health Care Debate to Restrict Abortion." The thrust of Kissling's essay was that the pro-abortion side had already compromised enough and that no further concessions should be made to the right-to-life side. A rebuttal by NRLC's Douglas Johnson was posted on on September 16, here.

7. On September 11, examined in detail, and rated as "True," the following statement by House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-Oh.): "During his quest for the presidency, now-President Obama declared that everyone deserves access to reproductive health care that includes abortion, and vowed that this 'right' would be at the heart of his health care reform plan if elected president." It is here.

8. In light of some of the press coverage of recent days, it is evident that NRLC's September 8 "duped media" advisory remains timely and should be required reading for journalists who are covering the congressional fight.

Abortion: psychologically (but not morally) complex

A woman has written a new book recounting her "abortion addiction" (she's had 16). Though her story is filled with unhappiness and shame, and culminates in "the redeeming face of motherhood," the book supposedly "understands the complex moral decision making surrounding a pregnancy decision and how devaluing to women's real experience is any bumper sticker approach to choice."

I'm reminded of this insight from pro-life philosopher Stephen Schwarz:
People rightly see the psychological complexity of abortion -- that it can be an agonizing decision, that opinion is divided, etc. They wrongly interpret this complexity as moral complexity, and thus fail to grasp the horror of abortion.
Morally, the abortion issue is relatively straightforward: Is the unborn a valuable, rights-bearing human being like you and me? If so, intentionally killing him or her by abortion is a grave injustice.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Baucus health care legislation threatens unborn, elderly

The new health care "reform" bill drafted by Sen. Max Baucus poses the same dangers as the other health care bills now before Congress: abortion funding and rationing of care for the most vulnerable.

From NRLC's Doug Johnson:

The "America's Healthy Future Act," proposed [Sept. 16] by Senator Max Baucus (D-Mt.), contains an array of pro-abortion mandates and federal subsidies for elective abortion. National Right to Life strongly opposes the legislation in its current form. We will work in support of amendments to eliminate the abortion mandates and federal abortion subsidies.

The bill contains provisions that would send massive federal subsidies directly to both private insurance plans and government-chartered cooperatives that pay for elective abortion. This would be a drastic break from longstanding federal policy, under which federal funds do not pay for elective abortions or subsidize health plans that cover elective abortions. For example, current law prohibits any of the over 250 private health plans that participate in the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program from paying for elective abortions, because these plans receive federal subsidies. These private plans cover over 8 million federal employees and dependents, including members of Congress.

Thus, under the Baucus bill, like the House Democratic leadership bill (H.R. 3200), federal funds would subsidize coverage of elective abortions. In addition, the Baucus bill requires that a specific charge must be included in the premiums paid by those who enroll in such subsidized plans, of at least "$1 per enrollee, per month," which amounts to a surcharge specifically for elective abortions.

These bills are not consistent with President Obama's September 9 claim that "no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions," or with Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius's September 13 affirmation that "no public funds would go to fund abortions." Funds spent by federal agencies are, by law, federal funds. The claim that under these bills, a federal agency would use "private funds" to subsidize abortions is absurd on its face -- a political hoax.

In addition, the Baucus bill provides $6 billion in federal funds for the establishment of health insurance cooperatives, without any limitation on the use of these funds to pay for abortions or to subsidize plans that pay for elective abortions.

In addition, the Baucus bill contains language that would allow the federal government to declare abortion to be a "mandated benefit as part of a minimum benefits package" in any circumstances in which the federal Medicaid program could pay for an abortion. Currently, the federal Medicaid program pays for abortion only in three limited circumstances: to save the life of the mother, or in cases of rape or incest. But that limitation depends on language, the Hyde Amendment, that expires every September 30, and that must be renewed annually as part of the Health and Human Services appropriations bill. Under the Baucus language, if one house of Congress, and/or the President, blocked renewal of the Hyde Amendment, many private insurance plans could be forced to include abortion on demand as a mandatory benefit in the minimum benefits package. This would be another major departure from the status quo. (Currently, only 13 percent of all abortions are billed directly to private insurance, according to the Guttmacher Institute.)

Read more about abortion coverage in the legislation.

With regard to rationing, the bill contains a dangerous provision that creates a financial incentive for Medicare doctors to deny treatments to seniors. National Right to Life Executive Director David N. O'Steen, Ph.D, says, "This is the cruelest and most effective way to ensure that doctors are forced to ration care for their senior citizen patients. It takes the telltale fingerprints from the government: instead of bureaucrats directly specifying the treatment denials that will mean death and poorer health for older people, it compels individual doctors to do the dirty work. It is an outrageous way to provide coverage for the uninsured -- by taking it away from America's senior citizens."

Read more about rationing in the legislation.

Positive Alternatives continues to assist women across Minnesota

The following MCCL news release was issued on Sept. 18, 2009.

Thousands of pregnant women finding help in their time of need

ST. PAUL – The state's Positive Alternatives program continues to meet the needs of thousands of girls and women throughout Minnesota seeking help bringing their pregnancies to term.

In the first year of the second grant cycle (July 1, 2008, through June 30, 2009), 6,578 women received services from the Positive Alternatives grant, according to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).

"After three extremely successful years, Positive Alternatives has been established as one of Minnesota’s most essential and successful programs for women," said Scott Fischbach, executive director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life. "More people need to know how this program offers a lifeline to women in need every day across the state."

More than 12,000 pregnant women were helped during the first two-year grant cycle, July 2006-June 2008.

Positive Alternatives was passed by the Legislature in 2005 with the strong support of MCCL to establish a grant program through MDH. Grants are given to life-affirming organizations offering essential services in the following areas: medical attention for the woman and the unborn child, nutritional services, housing assistance, adoption services, education and employment assistance, child care assistance, and parenting education and support services. A total of 37 organizations received $4.75 million in two-year grants in 2006. The second round of grants totaling $4.7 million was awarded to 31 agencies in July 2008.

The average cost per client served by the program is less than $400. For numerous women, this small investment helps to keep them off expensive public assistance programs by providing a stabilizing presence through housing and employment assistance.

The new MDH statistics are a clear indication that the demand for the services provided through Positive Alternatives is on the rise.

"As the economy creates greater financial pressures for women, the Legislature needs to seriously consider increasing funds for Positive Alternatives, not decreasing them as some lawmakers have proposed," Fischbach said.

Read stories on MCCL's Web site about how the organizations funded in part by Positive Alternatives are providing life-affirming support to pregnant women in need, both before and after their babies are born.

MCCL is Minnesota's oldest and largest pro-life organization with more than 70,000 member families and 240 chapters across the state. For more information about MCCL, visit

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A response to Planned Parenthood on abortion in health care legislation

By Doug Johnson, NRLC Legislative Director, published today in the Winona Daily News

On April 30, National Public Radio ran a report about abortion-related issues that were emerging under the new Obama administration. In the report, Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, proclaimed that the upcoming health care reform legislation would provide a "platform" to ensure "access to the full range of health care options" to "all women."

In Planned Parenthood's lexicon, "the full range of health care options" certainly includes abortion on demand.

This was not surprising. Richards had stood beside Barack Obama on July 17, 2007, as Obama promised PPFA activists that if he were elected president, "reproductive services" (which includes abortion) would be "at the heart" of his health plan, including the "public plan."

PPFA has a big stake in abortion - it is the nation's largest abortion provider. In 2007, PPFA-affiliated clinics performed 305,310 abortions. Abortions account for around one-third of all the income taken in at PPFA-affiliated clinics.

Still, they complain that barriers to "access" prevent many abortions - for example, the longstanding Hyde Amendment, which has prohibited federal Medicaid funding of abortion.

Richards and Obama have not changed their goals, but they are now trying to deflect attention away from them - for example, by denying that the pending health legislation would result in government funding of abortion. ("Plan wouldn't fund abortion," Sept. 13.)

Yet here is what the independent analysts at reported on September 10: "Under Democratic legislation now before Congress, the 'public option' ... could cover all abortions if the administration chooses and as Obama once promised. Private insurance plans purchased with the help of federal subsidies to low- and moderate-income workers also could cover all abortions."

Richards says the bill "guarantees that all funds used to pay for abortions ... will come from private dollars." Here we see the ordinary meaning of words being turned inside out in order to conceal an unpopular policy agenda.

On its face, Richards' claim is absurd, because a federal agency cannot spend "private dollars."

The funds in a citizen's bank account are "private," but once he or she writes a check to the IRS to pay income taxes, the funds become federal government funds, deposited in a U.S. Treasury account. The same would be true of the money collected by the Department of Health and Human Services under the public plan. If a citizen enrolls in the public plan and pays "premiums" to DHHS, the funds would no longer be "private" - they would legally and in reality be federal funds, as truly and completely as the funds that are collected by the IRS.

It is really pretty simple: Abortionists (including those employed by PPFA) would send their bills to the DHHS, and receive payment checks drawn on the U.S. Treasury. This would be direct government funding of elective abortion, using federal funds - which, in the real world, are the only kind of funds that the federal government can spend.

Anyone who wants to join the government program would be required to pay an additional premium amount to pay for elective abortions.

The National Right to Life Committee has posted extensive documentation on these provisions on our Web site at

Why, you may ask, is Planned Parenthood now trying to conceal the abortion policy goals that Richards proudly proclaimed a few short months ago?

The answer is found in a national poll conducted last week by Public Opinion Strategies, which found that 43 percent of registered voters said they would be "less likely" to support the president's health plan "if the government paid for abortions," and only
8 percent said "more likely." The substance of the Obama-Richards abortion policy goal is deeply unpopular. They hope to smuggle it into law under a smokescreen of misleading rhetoric, misdirection and evasion.

Friday, September 11, 2009

On MPR, MCCL discusses Obama's abortion comments

From a Minnesota Public Radio story entitled "Groups dispute Obama's abortion statements":
Bill Poehler, a spokesman for Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, Minnesota's largest anti-abortion group, was more direct. Regardless of the President's comments, Poehler said MCCL believes that any health care reform bill will include taxpayer funded abortions, maybe just not directly.

"A federal agency would receive bills from abortion providers and then pay for those abortions with money drawn from a federal treasury account," he said.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Obama perpetuates abortion funding myth in address to Congress

From NRLC: In his address to a joint session of Congress tonight, President Obama said, "One more misunderstanding I want to clear up -- under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions."

Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, commented: "Barack Obama needs to learn that the mere repetition of a verbal formula does not change reality. The reality is that the Obama-backed House bill would explicitly authorize the federal government insurance plan to pay for elective abortions and would explicitly authorize subsidies for private abortion insurance -- and all with federal dollars, which are the only kind of dollars that the federal government can spend."

The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) last week released definitive memoranda that demonstrate that (1) the "Hyde Amendment" would not apply to the new programs that would be created by the Obama-backed health bill, H.R. 3200, and (2) that all of the funds that would be spent on elective abortions under the bill, and all of the funds that would be spent to subsidize private insurance plans that cover abortion, would be "federal funds" in both the legal sense and in the sense in which those terms are used throughout the government.

"The claim that a federal agency would be spending private funds on abortion, not federal funds, is absurd on its face, a political hoax," Johnson said.

To read a September 8 NRLC media advisory that summarizes these issues, click here. The advisory contains links to the detailed memoranda that disprove the "Hyde Amendment myth" and the "government will spend private funds on abortions myth."

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

'On government-funded abortion, Obama has duped the news media with head fakes and doubletalk'

The following is a media advisory from National Right to Life.

NRLC releases two new memoranda refuting "the Hyde Amendment myth" and "the private funds myth"

WASHINGTON (September 8, 2009) -- The following statement may be attributed to Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), which is the federation of right-to-life organizations in all 50 states.

The health care legislation being pushed forward by President Obama would create a federally run insurance plan that would pay for elective abortion with government funds. The legislation also would provide massive tax-based subsidies to purchase private insurance plans that would cover elective abortions. Both of these new programs would represent drastic breaks with decades of federal policy against funding abortions in government-subsidized health programs.

Yet, in recent weeks, much of the news media have been manipulated by top Congressional Democrats and by the White House into denying or minimizing the abortion-related policy changes that are being advanced. Many journalists have casually adopted highly misleading characterizations of the abortion-related content of the legislation -- characterizations that cannot survive careful scrutiny. For example, many journalists have been snookered into reporting that House Democrats amended their legislation (H.R. 3200) so that the proposed government-run insurance program would be paying for elective abortions with "private funds" -- a claim that is absurd on its face, and that cannot survive thoughtful and skeptical scrutiny.

It is past time for the would-be factcheckers to stop acting as stenographers for the president and Speaker Pelosi on this issue. Here are some facts for them to check:

Read the rest.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

If you live in Minnesota ...

... you must attend one of MCCL's 2009 Fall Tour meetings, which educate and equip pro-lifers on current right-to-life issues, legislation, activism and more.

MCCL will hold 44 different meetings in towns all across Minnesota, starting Sept. 9 and with the last meeting on Oct. 28. See the schedule to find the meeting nearest you.

From the Web site:

The MCCL Fall Tour is an educational program that helps people keep up-to-date on pro-life issues. And the best part about it? We come to you! That's right! We send knowledgeable pro-life speakers from MCCL's State Office to various locations throughout Minnesota. Every event is free and open to the public. We would love to have you join us at one of our upcoming presentations!

In an effort to meet MCCL volunteers up-close and personal, the State Office launched its Fall Tour program in 2003. Teams of staff persons were sent to every region of Minnesota throughout September and October. The first Fall Tour was a tremendous success as volunteers learned about the latest ultrasound technology, picked up new brochures for teens, took billboards home and much more.

The Fall Tour has become so popular that it is now much anticipated every year. "We are able to meet with several times as many MCCL volunteers as normally come to the MCCL State Convention, which is one of our goals," MCCL President Leo LaLonde explains. "People appreciate the fact that we come to them, and they turn out in large numbers for our training."

MCCL staffers offer a PowerPoint presentation to educate and equip pro-life volunteers for effective work in their own communities. Positive Alternatives, stem cell research and human cloning, the burgeoning pro-life movement among young people and similar topics have been covered.

New materials delivered to MCCL Chapter volunteers have included brochures on forced abortion, stem cell research, taxpayer funding of abortion and why young people should become active pro-life citizens.

MCCL staffers discuss pro-life legislation that MCCL is working to pass. MCCL volunteers are given details of bills and how they can participate in the effort to make them law.

Media coverage of the meetings is widespread and positive. Dozens of newspapers across the state run articles and photos of local pro-lifers joining together to share the message of life in their communities.

"These meetings have been a real shot in the arm for MCCL's volunteers across Minnesota," LaLonde concluded. "Our Fall Tour helps MCCL activists feel prepared and ready to take action in the mission to protect precious lives."

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

UNESCO sex education guidelines push abortion

The following is a news release from MCCL Global Outreach.

Children instructed to become abortion advocates

A recent report from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), entitled International Guidelines on Sexual Education, is filled with advice for sex education instructors to advance the abortion agenda. Children are to be told not only about abortion, but where to obtain one, and to be trained to "advocate" the pro-abortion position.

The report calls for children as young as 9 to know of abortion and its legal status "locally and globally." As the children turn 12 years of age they are to be instructed on where they can find a legal abortion. Age 15 to 18 is the time when children will learn "advocacy to promote the right to and access to safe abortion."

Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Global Outreach (MCCL GO) reviewed the 94-page report extensively; a detailed citing of each abortion reference is available here.

"The International Guidelines are mere pro-abortion propaganda that ought not to be taken seriously," stated Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of MCCL Global Outreach.

One of the first learning objectives in the Guidelines is that "Every human being is unique and valuable … every human being deserves respect." That is the one and only reference to an individual’s right to exist. From that point on, it is hardcore abortion advocacy in every section.

Two stated goals of the Guidelines are to provide a clear understanding of what comprises sex education, and to help build support in communities for sex education.

"These stated goals can never be reached when the thrust is to advance the killing of innocent unborn children first and foremost," Fischbach said.

"UNESCO would be well served to start over with a foundational understanding that the promotion of abortion is not sex education and that communities will not be supportive of efforts to force abortion and the advocacy of abortion on our children."

For more information about MCCL GO, visit

Talking points on health care rationing

From NRLC, talking points on the threat of health care rationing -- and involuntary euthanasia -- in the current health care "reform" legislation.


Inadequate Funding

• Unless there is sustainable, adequate financing, over-promising while under-funding health insurance for the uninsured will almost surely lead to rationing when, down the road, government has to face the shortfall. All versions of the health care restructuring bill provide for premium subsidies to help the uninsured obtain health insurance. The problem is that the proposals under serious consideration to date fail to ensure a sustainable method of financing these subsidies.

• A substantial part of the subsidies, under current proposals, would be paid for by "robbing Peter to pay Paul" – reducing Medicare funding for older people in order to cover the uninsured. The dangerous consequence is that in a few years, having over-promised and under-funded, the government will be faced with the choice of adding other means of revenue or else (and far more likely) in some way imposing rationing.

Comparative Effectiveness

• The House bills and Senate Health Education. Labor and Pension (HELP) Committee bill, as reported, allow "comparative effectiveness" research to be used in making coverage decisions, determining reimbursement rates, and establishing incentive programs in ways that discriminatorily deny or limit health care based on age, present or predicted disability, or expected length of life. There is also no protection against the use of a QALY or "quality adjusted life year" (or any other name given to a standard that discounts the value of a period of life based on the patient’s present or predicted disability or quality of life) being employed as a mechanism to establish or recommend what health care is not cost-effective or not recommended.

• While a critically important amendment to prevent "comparative effectiveness" research from being used for rationing was defeated in the Senate HELP committee, NRLC has been able to negotiate language to be included in the comparative effectiveness portion of the bill planned to be brought before the Senate Finance Committee in September that would forbid use of comparative effectiveness data to deny treatment discriminatorily based on disability, age, or terminal illness. Since no such language is included in the Senate HELP Committee bill or House legislation, there is no guarantee that this protective provision will be included in any bill finally passed by Congress. Moreover, if the bipartisan group of six Senators does not agree on a compromise bill, Democratic Senate leaders have warned they may bring the HELP Committee bill to the Senate floor under reconciliation, which would permit many portions of it to pass with only 51 votes.

Advanced Planning

• NRLC opposes the H.R. 3200’s 'Advance Care Planning' Section 1233 and two related amendments (Baldwin and Hill amendments) as written. 'Advance Care Planning' means, essentially, encouraging patients to fill out legal documents like living wills stating what treatment they would -- or would NOT -- get if no longer able to make health care decisions for themselves. The concern is that in practice, these sessions will not center on respecting an individual’s wishes, but rather on subtly or otherwise encouraging individuals to
authorize withholding or withdrawal of life-saving medical treatment, food and fluids. For example, Holly Prigerson of Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Center says, "We refer to the end-of-life discussion as the multimillion-dollar conversation because it is associated with shifting costs away from expensive . . . care like being on a ventilator in an ICU, to less costly comfort care…." Data support Prigerson’s conclusion. Efforts to push patients and older people to prepare advance directives may in practice become a means of persuading or pressuring them to agree to less treatment as a means of saving money.