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Link to this story Says NRLC Correct on Abortion in Obama Health Bill

by Staff
August 26, 2009
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WASHINGTON, ( -- In recent weeks, NRLC has seen a wave of "factcheck" commentaries in various mainstream media, generally denying that the health bills being advanced by President Obama and top Democratic congressional leaders would result in government funding of abortion. Some of these articles assert that government funding of abortion would be prevented by a federal law called the "Hyde Amendment," some assert that it would be prevented by an amendment adopted in a House committee called the Capps Amendment, and some assert that President Obama himself has said that he agrees with a "tradition" that the government should not fund abortions. Regrettably, all three of these assertions are demonstrably false.

On August 19, 2009, President Obama himself said that it is "not true" and a "fabrication" to say that his health plan will "mean government funding of abortion." NRLC immediately challenged Obama's statement in a press release, in which NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson said, "President Obama today brazenly misrepresented the abortion- related component of the health care legislation that his congressional allies and staff have crafted. . . . the bill backed by the White House (H.R. 3200) explicitly authorizes the government plan to cover all elective abortions." The NRLC release also observed, "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."

In response to the Obama-NRLC exchange, the independent, affiliated with the Annenberg Public Policy Center, examined the issue. On August 21, issued its analysis, written by Director Brooks Jackson, titled, "Abortion: Which Side is Fabricating?" We quote here briefly from's conclusions:

". . . it's likely that any new federal insurance plan would cover abortion unless Congress expressly prohibits that. Low- and moderate-income persons who would choose the 'public plan' would qualify for federal subsidies to purchase it. Private plans that cover abortion also could be purchased with the help of federal subsidies. Therefore, we judge that the president goes too far when he calls the statements that government would be funding abortions 'fabrications.' . . . The NRLC's Johnson said 'the bill backed by the White House (H.R. 3200) explicitly authorizes the government plan to cover all elective abortions.' And our analysis shows that Johnson's statement is correct."

NRLC is in general agreement with the analysis, except we think that is in error in the way it uses the term "public funds." The House bill backed by the White House contains language (the Capps Amendment) that explicitly allows the federal agency that administers the "public option" to collect an additional amount of premium funds specifically to cover the costs of elective abortions, and no one would be allowed to enroll in the "public option" without paying this abortion surcharge. NRLC asserts that once the government collects these funds, they are "public funds" (or "federal funds"), and when the government uses those funds to write payment checks to abortionists, that is government funding of abortion.

For further information regarding this subject, visit the NRLC webpage on abortion-related issues in the health care legislation at

A detailed memorandum examining the bill language and President Obama's history on the issue can be viewed or downloaded here:

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