In less than an hour, I’ll be listening in on President Barack Obama’s BlogTalkRadio discussion about his health-care reform plans. But while this event is being organized by religious groups who purport to represent the “American Faith Community,” the groups are all pro-Obama, and, consequently, it’s doubtful he’ll face any hard questions about the health-care reform bill’s abortion mandate and other anti-life elements in the reform plan that are objectionable to faithful Catholics.
. . .in response to the direct question posed about abortion funding, Melody Barnes, director of Obama’s Domestic Policy Council, provided what appeared to be a deliberately misleading response. . .
. . .“You know, I’ve heard lots and lots of rumors about what the bills do or don’t do. I really want to be clear about this. The president has said that it’s longstanding policy that federal funds won’t be used for abortion coverage. Health reform, and our health reform efforts, are not intended to force Americans to purchase health insurance that includes coverage they don’t want, and they should be able to purchase coverage that reflects their values and basic needs. And it’s not intended to reduce insurance coverage that Americans already have.“ . . .
. . .Speaking at the conclusion of the carefully scripted BlogTalkRadio session, Obama cited the claim of funding of abortion as one example of the false claims that are being circulated by critics of his health care reform initiative. . .
. . .There’s a way for Obama and the Democratic leadership in Congress to put the matter to rest, of course. That could be done by including wording similar to the Hyde Amendment in the health-care reform bill, specifically prohibiting any federal funding of abortion services or of health benefit packages that include coverage of abortion.
You've got to see this whole post. Prior to joining the Obama administration, Melody Barnes was a board member of EMILY's List, the most radical pro-abortion lobby in the land.
Here's some other reaction to the staged call-in. From Marjorie Dannenfelser at the Susan B. Anthony List:
"Public support for abortion is on decline, and the President knows that openly advancing an abortion mandate in health care reform is unpopular with the American people. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Obama's statements conflict with the proposed legislation. Americans demand an explicit exclusion of abortion coverage, not more obfuscation and confusion from the President and his allies."
And Douglas Johnson at the National Right to Life Committee:
Emboldened by the recently demonstrated superficiality of some organs of the news media, President Obama today brazenly misrepresented the abortion-related component of the health care legislation that his congressional allies and staff have crafted. As amended by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on July 30 (the Capps- Waxman Amendment), the bill backed by the White House (H.R. 3200) explicitly authorizes the government plan to cover all elective abortions. Obama apparently seeks to hide behind a technical distinction between tax funds and government- collected premiums. But these are merely two types of public funds, collected and spent by government agencies. 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.
In 2007 Obama explicitly pledged to Planned Parenthood that the public plan will cover abortions (see the video clip here). Some journalists have reported that Obama "backed off" of this commitment in an interview with Katie Couric of CBS News, broadcast July 21, but Obama actually carefully avoided stating his intentions -- instead, he simply made an artful observation that "we also have a tradition of, in this town, historically, of not financing abortions as part of government funded health care."
It is true that there is such a tradition -- which Obama has always opposed, and which the Obama-backed bill would shatter.
On August 13, NRLC released a detailed memo explaining the provisions of the pending bills that would affect abortion policy, with citations to primary sources. Many of the "factcheck" articles that have appeared in the news media in recent weeks reflect, at best, unsophisticated understandings of the provisions they purport to be explaining, and also give evidence of a weak understanding of Obama's history on the policy issues involved. The memo is downloadable in PDF format here: www.nrlc.org/AHC/HR3200NRLCfactsheet.pdf
The administration's ploy throughout the campaign and his presidency has been to seek or invent amenable decoys for the actual voices in faith communities that oppose his radical anti-life agenda. Many of these decoys are pure hacks like the folks at Catholics United and Catholics in Alliance. This is a shameful exercise by an American administration to displace legitimate political opposition by substituting staged conversations with supporters faking as faith groups - and presenting an in-house love fest as consensus building.