Pin it

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

White House, Congressional Democratic Leaders push for October votes on pro-abortion health care bills!

For suggestions on how you can take immediate and effective action on this issue, scroll to the bottom of this update.

WASHINGTON (Updated October 14, 2009) – Both houses of Congress are pushing towards votes on sweeping "health care reform" bills that currently contain far-reaching pro-abortion provisions -- perhaps as early as the week of October 26, or in early November.

Despite public statements by President Obama that "no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions," all of the major bills under consideration would put the federal government into the business of subsidizing elective abortion on a huge scale -- which would be a drastic break from longstanding federal policy.

The bills are being pushed hard by President Obama and by top Democratic congressional leaders, including pro-abortion House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nv.). The Democrats hold majority control of both the House and the Senate, occupying about three-fifths of the seats in each house.

In the House of Representatives, three committees have approved a massive bill (H.R. 3200) after voting down NRLC-backed amendments to prevent the bills from mandating coverage of abortions and to prevent federal subsidies for abortions, as only a few Democrats joined the minority Republican members in support of the amendments.

On one of those three committees, the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the pro-abortion side narrowly won adoption of a "phony compromise" amendment written by staff to Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Ca.) and offered by Rep. Lois Capps (D-Ca.). (Both Waxman and Capps have solidly pro-abortion career records.) The Capps-Waxman Amendment would explicitly authorize coverage of all elective abortions under a new nationwide insurance plan run by the federal government (the "public plan"), and also would allow federal subsidies to flow to private insurance plans that cover elective abortions.

The pro-abortion members of the committee voted down an NRLC-backed amendment offered by Reps. Bart Stupak (D-Mi.) and Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) to prohibit federal subsidies from going to plans that cover elective abortions. Congressman Stupak has vowed that he will demand a vote on the pro-life amendment on the House floor, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Ca.) and other top House Democratic leaders have indicated that they do not intend to allow the House to vote on such an amendment.

Pelosi and other top Democratic House leaders are currently crafting a revised version of H.R. 3200, behind closed doors, which they will attempt to bring to the House floor as soon as they think they have secured sufficient votes to pass it. No House Republican has yet endorsed the legislation, which means that it cannot pass if as few as 40 of the 256 House Democrats withhold support from it.

Meanwhile, in the Senate, two committees have approved sweeping health care bills. Senate Majority Leader Reid and a handful of Democratic senators, in consultation with the White House, are now creating a combined bill behind closed doors, which Reid says he hopes to bring to the Senate floor as early as the week of October 26. Since both of the committees rejected all pro-life amendments, it is certain that the Reid bill will contain pro-abortion components. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and other pro-life senators will seek to remove the pro-abortion elements through amendments on the Senate floor.

The two bills that are now to be combined are the "Affordable Health Choices Act" (S. 1679), approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee on July 15, and the "America's Healthy Future Act" (as yet unnumbered), approved by the Senate Finance Committee on October 13.

"The bill approved by the Senate HELP Committee would result in the greatest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade," said NRLC Legislative Director Johnson. "It would result in federally mandated coverage of abortion by nearly all health plans, federally mandated recruitment of abortionists by local health networks, and nullification of many state abortion laws. It would also result in federal funding of abortion on a massive scale."

The Senate Finance Committee also contains an array of pro-abortion provisions, including language authorizing new federal subsidies to help pay for private health plans that cover elective abortions.

Obtaining broad federal subsidies for abortion as part of “health care reform” is currently the top priority of many pro-abortion organizations, such as the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA). These organizations are pushing for the abortion mandates both in public statements and in less visible lobbying efforts. In April, the president of PPFA said that her organization intends to use the health care legislation as a "platform" to guarantee "access" to abortion to "all women." Likewise, the National Abortion Federation, an association of abortion providers, said, "NAF supports health care reform as a way to increase access to comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion care, for all women."

On July 17, 2007, during Barack Obama's campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, he appeared before the annual conference of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. Speaking of his plans for "health care reform," Obama said, "in my mind, reproductive care is essential care. It is basic care, and so it is at the center and at the heart of the plan that I propose." He stated that, "What we're doing is to say that we're going to set up a public plan that all persons and all women can access if they don't have health insurance. It'll be a plan that will provide all essential services, including reproductive services." Under his plan, Obama explained, people could choose to keep their existing private health care plans, but "insurers are going to have to abide by the same rules in terms of providing comprehensive care, including reproductive care ... that's going to be absolutely vital." (You can view a video of Obama's remarks here. You can view a review of what Obama said by the independent group here.

NRLC has actively challenged misinformation about the health care bills in newspapers and websites across the land. To see some recent examples, "They Say, We Say," click here.

To view or download a two-page summary of key points, click here (PDF file). To view a memorandum explaining why the current law called the Hyde Amendment will not prevent government funding of abortion under H.R. 3200, click here. To view a memorandum rebutting the myth that only "private" funds would be used to pay for the abortions, click here.

What You Can Do Now

* Please take a few minutes to use the form here to send messages to your two U.S. senators and to your representative in the U.S. House of Representatives, to urge them to oppose the health care bills backed by the White House because they would create a new government insurance plan that would cover abortion, and would provide subsidies to private health plans that provide abortions. You can modify the suggested message as you see fit. When you fill in your mailing address, your messages will automatically be directed to the appropriate U.S. House member and to your two U.S. senators.

* In addition, please TELEPHONE the offices of your two U.S. senators, give your name and address, and tell the senators' staff persons that you wish to be recorded as "opposed to the health care bills that have been crafted by the two Senate committees, because both bills contain pro-abortion provisions, including subsidies for insurance plans that cover elective abortion." The offices of any U.S. senator can be reached through 202-224-3121. Also, please TELEPHONE the office of your U.S. House member, give your name and address, and inform the staff person that you wish to be recorded as "opposed to the health bill backed by the White House, H.R. 3200, because it would create a government health plan that would cover abortion, and because it would provide massive subsidies that could be used to purchase private health insurance plans that cover abortion." You can reach any U.S. House member's office through 202-225-3121. You can also find the direct-dial numbers (and fax numbers) for the Washington and in-state offices of your U.S. senators and U.S. House member by calling up their individual profiles on this website, here.

* Also, please send short letters to the "letters to the editor" features of your local newspapers, in order to alert your fellow pro-life citizens to the pro-abortion policies that the Obama White House and the pro-abortion lobby are trying to smuggle into law through "health care reform." You can find contact information for your local news media in our "Media Guide" here. You can get a two-page summary of key points here.
(Taken from Action Alert at

North Carolina Right to Life (NCRTL), as the state affiliate of National Right to Life (NRLC), urges all North Carolinians to take seriously this alert and to take action, especially by contacting Senator Kay Hagan, a member of the H.E.L.P. committee who voted against the NRLC amendments which NCRTL also supported. Use the form at the link provided to send her a message that you want abortion explicitly excluded from any health care bill.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Here are a few comments from NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson on the October 2 Denver Post article that we have pasted in below:

(1) It is unfortunate that the Denver Post article does not mention the "public plan" problem, which is very important, and separate and distinct from the premium-subsidy problem. Nevertheless, there is some good reporting work reflected in the Denver Post story. Take special note of this sentence: "Democratic leaders, including Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, are trying to work out a compromise with a small group of anti-abortion Democrats that would strengthen the Capp amendment language but fall short of the wholesale restrictions Stupak and allies want." Translation: Speaker Pelosi and Waxman are working on cosmetic changes to the Capps Amendment, which they will then try to peddle as an even-more-generous "compromise" by the pro-abortion side (but which in reality will put the federal government into the elective abortion business in both the public plan and the premium subsidy program). In any such new twist on the Waxman-Capps scam, we can expect that a prominent role will be assigned to Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), who impersonates a pro-life congressman, but who actually does the bidding of Planned Parenthood, Third Way, and Nancy Pelosi.

(2) In a the rebuttal to a pro-Capps piece by Jessica Arons of the Center for American Progress, I wrote, "In recent days, more than 30 House Democrats have written to Speaker Pelosi to point out that the Capps Amendment just won't do. The House Democratic leadership now has some people working on gluing on some additional trim and accessories so that they can try to peddle Capps II as a new model. But under the hood, it will still be the same old clunker."

(3) If this is a subject that interests you, you might also want to check out the September 30 NRLC release, "National Right to Life says new events in Congress further uncover pro-abortion agenda in health care bills," and "The Truth About 'The Truth About the Capps Amendment'," on The Hill blog.

For further information:
Douglas Johnson
Legislative Director
National Right to Life Committee
Washington, D.C.

[Denver Post story follows]
the health debate
Abortion latest snag in health reform
The issue is federal subsidies for policies that cover it. The Senate is drawing lines, too.
By Michael Riley
The Denver Post
Posted: 10/02/2009 01:00:00 AM MDT

WASHINGTON — Abortion emerged this week as the latest incendiary in the minefield of health care reform, sending negotiators scurrying to find an elusive patch of middle ground to save overhaul legislation.
The danger became apparent after Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., announced he had a commitment from 40 House Democrats to oppose a bill unless it prevents insurance purchased with federal subsidies from covering abortions. Two key Democratic senators said they would push a similar provision when the reform bill is debated on the floor in the Senate.

The 190-member Pro Choice Caucus in the House fired back Thursday, threatening to vote down reform legislation if those restrictions are applied. "That's a vast expansion of restrictions on choice, and I don't think that's right," said Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., the Pro Choice Caucus co-chair. "We are not going to vote for a final bill that further restricts a woman's right to choose, period."

Congressional experts say there is a bit of political gamesmanship in all this, but they also concede that the issue is combustible enough that the outcome is unpredictable. Adding to the difficulty is that it appears the room for compromise is razor-thin. Indeed, this week's blow-up came only after the failure of negotiations between Stupak and DeGette that lasted most of the summer, said DeGette, who is also vice chair of the committee that wrote a large part of health care reform in the House.

"This is clearly a very emotional issue for the two sides," said William Pierce, a health care expert and lobbyist who is following the congressional debate closely. "A solution will be found. What that solution is, I can't tell you that right now." At the heart of the matter is a longstanding truce between the sides in the abortion debate that prevents federal money from being used to pay for abortions.

Health care reform measures in both the House and the Senate provide federal subsidies for low-income families to buy insurance. If those subsidies are used to buy policies that pay for abortions, anti-abortion forces argue, then federal money would effectively pay for those procedures. House negotiators had hoped to resolve the problem with an accounting trick. An amendment passed just before the August recess requires insurance companies to keep the subsidized portion of the premium separate from the portion paid for with private dollars. Reimbursements to doctors for abortions could come only from the second pot.

"It's a hoax," Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, said of what is known as the Capp amendment. "You would have the federal government engaged big-time in the abortion business" under the amendment. The other side is just as adamant.

If federal subsidies couldn't be used for policies that cover abortion, insurance companies worried about losing those customers would stop offering policies that cover the procedure altogether, abortion-rights forces say. That would mean the elimination of private policies that cover abortions, they say.  "There might be language that could help strengthen the Capp amendment and give more of our members a feeling of comfort, but still not upset the balance," DeGette said.

The spat has threatened to upend the momentum of negotiations. Democratic leaders, including Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, are trying to work out a compromise with a small group of anti-abortion Democrats that would strengthen the Capp amendment language but fall short of the wholesale restrictions Stupak and allies want.

If enough Democrats can be peeled away from that group, Democrats think they can save the bill, DeGette said.  "Having seen enough of these big debates about big issues, this is what happens," said Pierce, who was a Capitol Hill staffer during some of the most intense health care debates of the past two decades. "They go along, they look good, then boom — some issue pops up that has not been dealt with."

"But in the end, the president is going to say, 'I need the health care reform bill on my desk,' " he said. "The Democrats in the anti-abortion group are going to be asking themselves the same question as the pro-choice guys: 'Am I going to be willing to kill the bill over this?' "

Michael Riley: 303-954-1614 or

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Kyl Amendment defeated 13-10 in Senate Finance Committee

WASHINGTON – In a 13-10 party-line vote last night, the Senate Finance Committee rejected an amendment by Senator Jon Kyl (R-Az.) to remove a provision in the health care restructuring bill establishing that for at least five years, Medicare physicians who authorize treatments for their patients that wind up in the top 10% of per capita cost for a year will lose 5% of their total Medicare reimbursements for that year.

“Last night’s vote in the Senate Finance Committee should put America’s senior citizens on alert: if the death spiral provision actually becomes law, their Medicare providers will start a race to the bottom to avoid being captured in the top ten percent,” said Burke Balch, J.D., director of National Right to Life’s Powell Center for Medical Ethics. “Older Americans who rely on Medicare would be faced with fewer and less-effective treatment options. This is among the most insidious provisions for rationing in any of the health care bills before Congress."

The provision, on pages 80-81 of the "Chairman’s Mark," (documentation available here) drives all doctors treating older people to try to order fewer and less effective tests and treatments for fear that they will be caught in that top 10%. "It is noteworthy that this feature operates independently of any considerations of quality, efficiency, or waste - if you authorize enough treatment for your patients, however necessary and appropriate it may be, you are in danger of being one of the 1 in 10 doctors who will be penalized each year," Balch said. "Moreover, it creates a moving target - by definition, there will ALWAYS be a top 10%, no matter how far down the total amount of money spent on Medicare is driven."

As National Right to Life Executive Director David N. O’Steen, Ph.D., has previously noted, “It's like a game of musical chairs, in which there is always one chair less than the number of players – so no matter how fast the contestants run, someone will always be the loser when the music stops.”

Although Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) voted against the Kyl Amendment because he disagreed with its budget offsets (required under the committee’s rules), he earlier said, "As I try to put my feet in the shoes of a doctor, I don’t know how you separate out overutilization that is really overutilization. There is no way of knowing when you go through the year, what you are going to do at the end of the year." He warned that the provision could come back to "haunt us" in a few years.

The National Right to Life Committee, the nation’s largest pro-life group, is a federation of affiliates in all 50 states and 3,000 local chapters nationwide.