Blog Post

President Signs Executive Order Behind Closed Doors

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Journalist With only a handful of people on hand and no press allowed, President Barack Obama signed an executive order yesterday that supposedly promises not to use taxpayer funds for abortion under the new health care law. The secrecy of the signing ceremony sparked a rash of criticism that the White House was unable to defend. is reporting that the guest list present at the signing included: Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Representatives Bart Stupak (D-MI), Kathy Dahlkemper (D-PA), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Nick Rahall (D-WV), Jerry Costello (D-IL), Chris Carney (D-PA), Steve Driehaus (D-OH), Charlie Wilson (D-OH), Jim Oberstar (D-MN), Alan Mollohan (D-WV), Brad Ellsworth (D-IN), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), and Mike Doyle (D-PA). No press were permitted to attend, which sparked angry exchanges with White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs during the daily briefing. After stating that Obama doesn't regard the executive order as a "worthless piece of paper," as pro-life groups have called it, Gibbs was asked by ABC reporter Jake Tapper if the order was anything more than a reiteration of what was already contained in the health care reform bill. Gibbs stumbled: “I mean, it’s an executive order so this isn't -- I mean, it’s not a frivolous thing, Jake.” Tapper pressed: “But does this executive order change anything that the law already didn't do . . . I mean, you can't have it both ways. Either the executive order is needed to clarify something that’s not . . ." Gibbs responded: “It ensures that health care, the law the President signed yesterday, maintains the status quo of the federal law prohibiting the federal use -- the use of federal dollars for abortion.” Tapper said, “I read the executive order, and it says that’s a reiteration of what already exists,” to which Gibbs responded, “Well, there you go.” So, in other words, it’s not legally necessary, Tapper asked. Gibbs said, “No, we reiterated the status quo, and we're comfortable reiterating that status quo.” The press secretary was equally vague during an exchange about the lack of press coverage planned for the signing of the order. After stating that White House photographer Pete Souza would provide the press with a picture of the closed event, a reporter pressed, “Right, but what about allowing us in, for openness and transparency?” “We'll have a nice picture from Pete that will demonstrate that type of transparency,” Gibbs responded. The reporter was not satisfied. “Not the same, Robert. Never has been.” “I know you all disagree with that,” Gibbs said. “I think Pete takes wonderful photos.” To this, the reporter said, “Whoa! Don't twist this -- not an attack on Pete.” “Well, I don't know why you'd want to attack Pete,” Gibbs persisted, “but I'm going to stand up here and defend Pete’s  . . .” The reporter cut him off: “It’s not transparent and it’s a vital issue.” When Gibbs reiterated that they would have a “lovely picture from Pete”, the reporter asked, “You really think that’s all it’s worth, is a photograph, on an issue this important?” Gibbs could only repeat, “I think you'll be able to see the President sign the executive order . . .  You’ll have a nice picture.” Marjorie Dannenfelser of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, was one of many pro-life leaders to criticize the administration for its lack of honesty and transparency. “Today’s decision to sign the Executive Order behind closed doors reveals much about the seriousness of this President and Democrats' commitment to keep abortion funding out of the newly passed healthcare legislation," she told LifeNews. "If the Executive Order solution were real, then the signing ceremony would have to be on the White House lawn—somewhere big enough to fit the massive, bipartisan consensus that exists opposing taxpayer funding for abortion." © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly®/Women of Grace®