Speaker Pelosi has her own idiosyncratic dictionary, one in which federal agencies can pay for abortion on demand without spending “public funds” or “taxpayer funds” for abortion. In ordinary English, however, this is deceptive claptrap. Every version of the health-care bill has contained multiple pro-abortion mandates and federal subsidies for abortion — except for the version that was fixed by adoption of the Stupak-Pitts amendment, over Speaker Pelosi’s objections.
President Obama and Senator Reid succeeded in keeping that fix out of the Senate bill — indeed, the Senate produced a final bill that is the most pro-abortion single piece of legislation to reach the floor of either house of Congress since Roe v. Wade. It would result in direct federal funding of abortion through Community Health Centers, tax subsidies for private plans that cover abortion (including some federally administered plans), and pro-abortion federal administrative mandates, among other problems. The Ben Nelson language in the Senate bill is unacceptable, but most of the problems are entirely outside the scope of the Nelson language.
If journalists want to really understand the degree to which abortion policy issues bear on the prospects for this legislation in the House, they need to abandon their misconception that the two bills differ on abortion only on one narrow issue that they can summarize in one sentence.
– Douglas Johnson is legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee.