President Uses Semantics to Avoid Abortion Issue

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Journalist

A pro-life Congressman is claiming that President Barack Obama told him in a phone conversation that when he addressed Congress on Sept. 9 and said “under our plan no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions” he was not talking about any of the bills currently pending on the Hill, but his own plan – which only exists theoretically.

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) told that he confronted the president about this statement in a phone conversation, saying that abortion funding is indeed provided in all of the bills currently under consideration on the Hill. The President corrected him saying that when he addressed Congress, he said, “Under my plan” abortion funding would not be provided.

At this point, Rep. Stupak said, “With all due respect sir, you do not have a plan. The only plan we have out is the House plan’.”

The president offered no reply, saying only, “Go back and work with the people on your committee and get this matter worked out. Work with the Speaker. Work with us, would you?”

“So, I don’t know if it is a game of semantics or what,” Rep. Stupak concluded.

The Congressman said that Obama appeared to be supportive of his amendment, which would specifically prohibit taxpayer funding for abortion in health care reform legislation, although the president never said he supported the specific language of Rep. Stupak’s amendment.

“He is supportive of what I am trying to do,” Rep. Stupak told CNS. “However, we are getting down to crunch time. And I would call upon the President to help us out here. The Speaker has told me I will not have my amendment. It will not be made in order. It will not be part of HR 3200. So the Capps language – which [means] citizens would have to start using their funds, public funds, to pay for abortions – will be part of 3200. And I will not have an opportunity on the House floor to delete that language or put the Hyde language in there to supersede the Capps language.”
Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, believes a game of semantics is exactly what the president is playing.

“Every time the President has spoken of not wanting to fund abortion in ‘his’ health care plan, no one has really known what measure he was talking about,” said Fr. Pavone.  “Now we know from his conversation with Congressman Stupak that the President’s ‘plan’ has never seen the light of day. Or maybe, to paraphrase former President Bill Clinton, it depends on what the word ‘plan’ means.” 

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