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Obama denies that health plan would cover abortion; pro-life forces rebut him

Catholic World News - August 20, 2009

In an appeal to religious leaders for help in promoting his health-care reform plans, President Barack Obama claimed that the legislation he endorses does not include tax subsidies for abortion. Pro-life leaders quickly refuted that claim, noting that the bill would require abortion coverage in a federal health plan.

“I need you to spread the facts and speak the truth,” Obama told religious leaders in a conference call. He argued that all religions recognize the moral obligation to provide health care for all.

Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee charged that Obama had “brazenly misrepresented” the treatment of abortion in the proposed reform. He explained:

The Obama-backed legislation makes it explicitly clear that no citizen would be allowed to enroll in the government plan unless he or she is willing to give the federal agency an extra amount calculated to cover the cost of all elective abortions -- this would not be optional. The abortionists would bill the federal government and would be paid by the federal government. These are public funds, and this is government funding of abortion.
Pressing their own political offensive, a coalition of pro-life leaders formed a coalition to Stop the Abortion Mandate. They said that the Obama reform plan would entail the most sweeping expansion of access to legal abortion since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.

To date, the efforts by pro-life leaders to inform the American public about the issue appear to be meeting with some success, but the battle for control of the discussion is intense. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed that 50% of respondents believed that the reform plan would bring taxpayer subsidies of abortion, while 37% believed that outcome was unlikely. The same poll showed general opposition to the reform plans, with only 36% thinking the Obama plan was a good idea.

Writing for the American Spectator about the President’s appeal to religious sentiments, Joseph Lawler (son of CWN editor Phil Lawler) pointed out that Obama has a history of invoking religious authority-- often betraying some confusion about religion in the process.

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