President’s Conference Call to Religious Leaders Draws Criticism

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Writer

Pro-life leaders across the country are calling on President Obama and his allies to “walk the talk” after he participated in a conference call with “progressive” religious organizations in which he denied the many anti-life provisions that are present in the current health care plan.

The conference call, which was held at 5:00 p.m. Eastern time yesterday, was sponsored by “40 Days for Health Reform,” a group of 30 or more left-leaning religious organizations that include the Catholic Social Justice Lobby (known as Network), Catholics United, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and the George-Soros-funded Faith in Public Life.

According to a report by the Catholic News Agency (CNA), the conference began with a statement by Florida pastor John Hunt who called for members to “take action to make health care reform happen.” He claimed “this is not about ideology or partisan politics; this is about people’s lives.”

This was followed by several religious leaders who told stories about parishioners, friends and relatives who died or are suffering due to lack of health care.

Melody Barnes, the White House Director of Domestic Policy, spoke next. Ms. Barnes formerly served as Executive Vice President for Policy at the ultra-liberal Center for American Progress and once authored a paper suggesting that the pro-abortion lobby begin to address abortion less as a life and death morality issue and more like a health care issue. During the call, she insisted that “federal funds will not be used for abortion coverage” and promised “well crafted conscience protection clauses.”

The president then joined the call, saying, “I know that there’s been a lot of misinformation in this debate and there are some folks out there who are, frankly, bearing false witness.”

He reassured listeners that the government would not meddle with those who were satisfied with their health insurance and said claims that his policies included “death panels” and federally funded abortion are untrue.

“These are fabrications that have been put out there in order to discourage people from meeting what I consider to be a core ethical and moral obligation and that is that we look out for one another,” he said. “That I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper and in the wealthiest nation on Earth right now, we are neglecting to live up to that call.”
However, Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), told CNA that Obama “brazenly misrepresented the abortion-related component of the health care legislation that his congressional allies and staff have crafted.”

He explained that “as amended by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on July 30 (the Capps- Waxman Amendment), the bill backed by the White House (H.R. 3200) explicitly authorizes the government plan to cover all elective abortions.”

Obama is trying to hide behind a technical distinction between tax funds and government- collected premiums, “but these are merely two types of public funds, collected and spent by government agencies,” Johnson charged.

“The Obama-backed legislation makes it explicitly clear that no citizen would be allowed to enroll in the government plan unless he or she is willing to give the federal agency an extra amount calculated to cover the cost of all elective abortions – this would not be optional. The abortionists would bill the federal government and would be paid by the federal government.
“These are public funds, and this is government funding of abortion,” Johnson said.

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