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.