Friday, September 11, 2009

Healthcare reform and abortions

From the 14 September Greater Niagara Newspapers

By Bob Confer

A great deal of criticism directed at healthcare reform has focused on end of life issues. Many people have decried the potential for rationing and abandonment as well as the “death panel” conspiracy. With all the efforts placed in protecting the right to life of geriatrics, little attention has been paid to the other end of the spectrum, the very beginning of life. Most people are unaware that the reform movement will fund abortions, taking away precious lives before they’ve ever had a chance to experience what we’ve all taken for granted.

The President has been coy on this issue, choosing words that mask his true intent. On August 19 President Obama participated in a national teleconference of some 140,000 religious leaders and heads of faith-based organizations during which the subject of abortions came up. The White House’s domestic policy advisor Melody Barnes responded with, "The president has said that it's long-standing policy that federal funds won't be used for abortion coverage." A few days later during his weekly address Obama added the following: “When it comes to the current ban on using tax dollars for abortions, nothing will change under reform.”

Those statements are very misleading. They did not say that abortions wouldn’t be a part of the plan; they noted only their funding. Obama is a proponent of abortion so it’s a given that it’s a part of the reform plan (the catchphrase “reproductive services” shows up numerous times in the 1,000-page bill). His voting record in Illinois and Washington, DC shows unyielding support for abortion and he’s the man who during his presidential campaign announced his support of the Freedom of Choice Act, a bill that would recognize abortion as a fundamental right. And, don’t forget that on the campaign trail Obama said this horrific and telling line, “Look, I've got two daughters. 9 years old and 6 years old… if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby."

But, back to his August comments. You must follow the money trail to see that any and all abortions under the public option will ultimately be funded by taxpayer dollars. The public health insurance option, as with all other insurances, must be purchased by interested parties. It’s not free. At the time of purchase it will be private dollars (the customers’) going towards the insurance, so the President is correct in his assessment, but only from a politically-savvy and somewhat temporary standpoint. If you take it one step further, you will find that many of those dollars (if not most) will be made available to that family through public subsidies allowing low-income families to buy insurance. So, while it may be private dollars at the time of purchase, those private dollars may be composed of a healthy portion of federal tax dollars. Whether that means taxes are directly paying for abortions or not, it’s all in the interpretation and that’s the card that Obama, a skilled political craftsman, is playing.

Helping him along in this endeavor is an amendment that was introduced by Rep. Lois Capps. Her plan is to set up a two-account system by which all health insurance policies (public or private) will have to track premiums and federal subsidies independently, and, through that, abortions can be funded by the premium-only account. Critics have pointed out that this is a bookkeeping gimmick and that all insurance funds are fungible and it is impossible to segregate money this way.

Capps’ amendment is a political move that deflects responsibility and allows elected officials to evade it. Similarly, the body of the healthcare reform bill does the same. It authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services to decide whether or not “reproductive services” will be allowed under any plan she approves. So, the elected officials – who are supposed to represent us – cannot vote on abortion and instead leave it in the hands of pro-choicer Kathleen Sebelius. This allows any politician who would have voted in favor of abortion to escape the ire of their constituents who would be in disagreement in the event Sebelius allows abortion coverage.

This assault on the right to life is not unexpected. Not only does the Obama Administration have a track record that supports it, but they carry with them a sort of arrogance about the issue. Last year Candidate Obama had famously told Pastor Rick Warren that decisions about abortion were above his pay grade. Fast forward to the August 19 teleconference when Obama had done an about face and said, “We are God’s partners in matters of life and death.”

You have to admit, after a comment like that, it’s a little frightening to realize that our government thinks it’s at par with the Almighty.

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