Health Secretary Continues Obama Doublespeak on Abortion

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Journalist

The Secretary of Health and Human Services, pro-abortion Catholic Kathleen Sebelius, who will play a pivotal role in insuring that abortions are covered in any new health care reform bills, echoed the presidents disingenuous statements about the issue on a Sunday morning talk show.

While appearing on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Secretary Sebelius said abortion will not be covered with government funds under the president’s plan and went so far as to imply that the Catholic bishops are in favor of all that the president said during his address to a joint session of Congress last week.

“In fact, recently the Catholic bishops came out, after the President’s statement saying that his statement about what he intends in the plan that no public fund would go to fund abortion and the fact that he has come out firmly for insuring all Americans and saying that it’s a moral issue as well as an economic issue and they endorsed moving forward. I think the legislative language will reflect what the President has just said.”

Stephanopoulos then asked: “So you are saying that he will go beyond what we have seen in the House and explicitly rule out any public funding for abortion?”

And she responded: “Well that’s exactly what the President said and that’s what he intends that the bill he signs will do.”

, Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) said her statements are nothing more than the same play on words that we’ve been hearing from the administration.

In a letter to Stephanopoulos, Johnson said: “Unfortunately, everything we have seen so far would suggest that President Obama’s latest so-called ‘pledge’ not to provide ‘federal funds’ for abortion . . .was just the latest in a series of highly misleading statements on the subject – statements that employ a distorted and contrived terminology, or that rely on misdirection and evasion.”

As explained by John McCormack of the Weekly Standard, the way abortions will be covered in the public plan or “exchange” is under an amendment to HR 3200 written by pro-choice Democrat Lois Capps. This amendment explicitly authorizes Sebelius to include abortion coverage in the public health insurance plan. The amendment mandates that the public plan cover abortion if the Hyde amendment, which bans federal funding of abortions through Medicaid except in cases of rape, incest, and life of the mother, is repealed. 

To buy into the public plan, each person would have to pay member dues (premiums), including “not less than $1 per month” into a special U.S. Treasury account that would be used to pay abortion fees, McCormack explains. The Capps amendment requires at least one (federally subsidized) insurance plan covering elective abortions (and one not covering abortions) to be offered to those purchasing health insurance in the private health insurance “exchange.”

Supporters of the amendment argue that it bans federal funding of abortion because it specifies that abortions should be paid for through an individual’s premiums rather than through federal subsidies. So, say that an individual contributes $500 to purchase a health-insurance plan, and the government contributes $3,000. When the bill comes due from an abortionist, he will theoretically be paid out of the $500 in premiums rather than the $3,000 of taxpayer-money.

“It is really pretty simple,” Johnson writes. “Abortionists would send their bills to the HHS and they would receive payments drawn on the U.S. Treasury. This would be direct federal government funding of elective abortion, using federal funds (which are, in reality, the only kind of funds that the government can spend). It would be impossible to enroll in the public fund without paying a premium that was increased specifically to cover the cost of elective abortions.”

Johnson went on to remind Stephanopoulos about Obama’s promise to Planned Parenthood in 2007 that “reproductive services” (which includes abortion) would be “at the heart” of his health plan.

“H.R. 3200 contains the fulfillment of that commitment,” he said, “which Mr. Obama now seeks to smuggle into law behind a smokescreen of misleading rhetoric.”

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