Pro-lifers fear U.S. health care reform

By  Angela Cave, Catholic News Service
  • July 23, 2009
{mosimage}WASHINGTON - U.S. President Barack Obama’s push for health care reform could be the worst thing for the pro-life cause since Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision legalizing abortion nationwide, said individuals and groups that oppose abortion.

The three health care reform bills currently in Congress do not specifically mention abortion. But legal precedent proves abortions could be covered by federal tax money unless excluded in legislation, pro-life members of Congress said. Legislation also could mandate abortion coverage for most insurance plans.

The Obama administration has not ruled out the possibility of publicly funded abortions, said Peter Orszag, White House budget director, on Fox News Sunday July 19.

“We would be very naive and foolish in the extreme if we didn’t notice the game that’s being played here,” said Rep. Chris Smith, chairman of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus for 27 years. “It’s Orwellian.”

Obama would be misleading Americans and Pope Benedict XVI in promising to reduce the number of abortions if language excluding abortions is not added to the legislation, said Smith, a Catholic.

Thousands of abortion facilities could spring up as a result of the legislation, and funding could cause an increase in abortions because lack of money would be one less barrier in a woman’s decision, Smith told Catholic News Service July 20.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops also weighed in on the issue.

“No health care reform plan should compel us or others to pay for the destruction of human life, whether through government funding or mandatory coverage of abortion,” wrote Bishop William Murphy, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, in a July 17 letter to Congress.

A May Gallup Poll found a majority of Americans are calling themselves pro-life for the first time since Gallup began asking the question in 1995.

Nineteen Democrats in the U.S. House appealed to Speaker Nancy Pelosi to exclude abortion from the health reform plan.

Those who support keeping abortion legal said abortion and reproductive health should not be treated differently from other health care. Reproductive care includes abortion, said Marjorie Signer, spokeswoman for the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice , which has about 36 member organizations. Individual denominations in the coalition may have separate stances on health reform, but the coalition as a whole would support publicly funded abortions as long as doctors are not forced to provide procedures.

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