When most Americans talk about the need for health-care reform, they’re usually talking about the need to address rising health-care costs; they aren’t talking about the need for taxpayers to subsidize abortion. In fact, a November 2008 Zogby poll revealed 71 percent of Americans oppose government-funded abortion.
It seems Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill don’t share this perspective, however. With the unequivocal support of President Obama, they’ve written a health-care bill that won’t lower health-care costs for American families, but will require them to subsidize abortion with their hard-earned tax dollars.
In his campaign for the presidency, President Obama said health-care legislation should include expanded access to abortion. He hasn’t said much on the matter since taking office last January. But now, over the objections of some in his own party, President Obama is demanding that Congress pass health-care legislation before August, and the House is slated to vote next week on a bill that will fulfill the president’s vow if signed into law.
The Obama administration contends the urgent deadline is necessitated by the suffering of American families who have waited too long for Congress to act to address the high cost of health care. But according to the independent Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the bill the president supports won’t lower health-care costs; it will increase them. And as the veteran political operatives in the Obama White House well know, the frantic timetable conveniently leaves precious little time for the American people to know what’s actually in the bill.
The legislation’s abortion-related language stands as Exhibit A. How many Americans currently realize the House bill contains provisions that will result in federally mandated coverage of abortion on demand in virtually all of America’s health plans?
Fact: The bill as currently written will allow the federal government to classify abortion as an “essential benefit” — a health-care right that would be guaranteed to all Americans. This will make it illegal for health-care providers nationwide — even Catholic and religious-based hospitals with missions that reflect a fundamental moral objection to the killing of the unborn — to provide anything less than abortion on demand for anyone who seeks it. As a result, the bill will repeal laws in many states that currently require commonsense limitations on abortion-on-demand, such as mandatory parental notification and waiting periods.
Fact: The bill would also establish a taxpayer-funded “public” health-care plan to “compete” with private-sector plans. This public plan, like all plans, will be required to classify abortion as an “essential benefit,” forcing American citizens to directly subsidize abortion-on-demand with their tax dollars. And in addition to the public plan, individuals with incomes of up to 400% of the poverty level will receive subsidies to buy insurance to pay for abortion-on-demand.
Reps. Eric Cantor (R. Va.), Sam Johnson (R., Texas), and Mark Souder (R., Ind.) offered amendments this month in three different House committees to strike the provisions from the Democratic bill that force American taxpayers to subsidize abortion. All three amendments, sadly, were defeated by the Democratic majority in committee. And it remains to be seen whether Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), who champions the House bill and its abortion-related provisions, will allow such an amendment to be considered and debated on the House floor.
Indeed, Congress may vote on this issue and send a bill to the president before most Americans even have a chance to weigh in on it. And once the bill reaches his desk, there’s little doubt that the president will sign it.
Peter Orszag, President Obama’s budget director, was asked July 19 whether the president would pledge that “no taxpayer money will go to pay for abortions” under the health-care bill he signs.
“I am not prepared to say explicitly that right now,” Mr. Orszag said. “It’s obviously a controversial issue, and it’s one of the questions that is playing out in this debate.”
Controversial, indeed. And given its controversial nature, it deserves a full and open public debate — the sort of debate that is impossible when major bills are rammed through Congress based on politically driven timetables.
If a health-care bill doesn’t lower costs for middle-class families, but does require them to subsidize abortion-on-demand with their hard-earned tax dollars, one has to ask a fundamental question: For whom was this bill actually written? Was it written for the millions of Americans who were promised a health-care bill that lowers costs? Or is it really for the radical special-interest and lobbying groups that invested millions to elect a cooperative president and Congress?
Health care is too important to get wrong. Too much is at stake. For the sake of American families struggling with health-care costs — most of whom don’t want their hard-earned money being used by the federal government to subsidize abortion — President Obama should scrap the current health-care bill, and work in a bipartisan way for true reforms.
— John Boehner (R., Ohio) is House minority leader.