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Abortion & health care reform: Stupak helps clear the waters
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Representative Bart Stupak (D-Mich) is making the headlines again.  Some consider him a valiant hero.  Others believe he’s a political opportunist.

And some fear he’s almost singlehandedly grounding the President’s most important first-term goal: to pass sweeping health care reform.  To many of those who consider the Public Option the only lasting solution to our country’s health care crisis, Bart Stupak has become public enemy #1.

I’ve been reviewing the reports and find the whole issue as clear as mud.
So it is with politics.  So it is with political moves, motives, and language.

Claiming the current bill leaves open the door to federally funded abortion, he stated on Good Morning America: “We must have health care, but, boy, there are some principles and beliefs that some of us are not going to pass.”

Thursday, I heard him boldly state that he would never compromise on this essential issue, because you can’t trade off this issue for any political gain.

And he cited, among other public figures supporting this cause, American Catholic Bishops.  Their steadfast stance that abortion is never the ethical choice, and that public monies must never fund abortion, supports his cause.

Then how is it that we’re hearing and reading report after report that, after all, the bill in consideration does not include, mandate, or even open the way to publicly funded abortion - except, granted, in more extreme cases?

Either the bill does or it doesn’t. It may take a lawyer and a politician to sift through the complicated and often nuanced language of any legislation, and a prophet to foresee clearly all the implications and applications of a bill once passed, but I don’t think that it should require a rocket scientist to determine whether the bill does, or doesn’t, open the way to public funding.

Charmaine Yoest, in Thursday’s Online Wall Street Journal, clarified the muddy waters by addressing, not the language in the bill, but the language that is lacking: “Last September, the president promised that ‘no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.’ Yet the legislation most likely to move forward in Congress would be the single greatest expansion of abortion since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.”  (March 4, 2010, “Abortion and the Health Bill”)

Continues Yoest, “The White House knows how to turn Mr. Obama’s September commitment into legislative action.  I met with senior White House officials and told them that only adding a so-called Hyde Amendment to the health-care reform bills would fulfill the president’s promise to protect Americans from subsidizing abortion.  The Hyde Amendment dates back to the 1970s, when congressional leaders discovered that Medicaid was paying for nearly 300,000 abortions a year. This had not been an intended outcome of the Medicaid program, which was created in 1965 with strong bipartisan support.  So in 1976 Rep. Henry Hyde introduced an amendment to the Health and Human Services appropriations bill prohibiting taxpayer funds from paying for abortions.”

In other words, if the President intends to hold true to his commitment, he will make sure that language equivalent to the Hyde Amendments gets in.

“Over the past year,” Yoest recounts, “language similar to the Hyde Amendment was crafted by Reps. Bart Stupak (D., Mich.) and Joe Pitts (R., Pa.) and inserted into the health-care bill that passed the House.  When asked about the Stupak-Pitts Amendment in November, Mr. Obama talked around the issue.  He said that ‘there is a balance to be achieved that is consistent with the Hyde Amendment.’  When asked if Stupak-Pitts struck this ‘balance,’ the president replied ‘not yet.’  That’s an odd reply.”

 What I wrote above Yoest re-affirms: “The funding is either prohibited or it’s not.”  …The question of abortion funding doesn’t have any Zen to it.

 “In November, presidential adviser David Axelrod, on CNN’s ‘State of the Union,’ also talked around the Hyde Amendment, saying that the president ‘doesn’t believe this bill should change the status quo as it relates to the issue of abortion.’ But then Mr. Axelrod claimed that ‘this shouldn’t be a debate about abortion’ before concluding that there were discussions in Congress about ‘how to adjust [the abortion language bill] accordingly.’

 “Apparently,” Yoest interprets, “his definition of ‘adjust’ means opening up the spigot for the abortion lobby.  The president’s latest proposal mirrors legislation that has passed the Senate, which doesn’t include a Hyde Amendment, and would inevitably establish abortion as a fundamental health-care service for the following reasons:  (Please take these to heart!)

 • “It would change existing law by allowing federally subsidized health-care plans to pay for abortions and could require private health-insurance plans to cover abortion.

 • “It would impose a first-ever abortion tax — a separate premium payment that will be used to pay for elective abortions — on enrollees in insurance plans that covers abortions through newly created government health-care exchanges.

 • “And it would fail to protect the rights of health-care providers who refuse to participate in abortions.

 “The president’s plan goes further than the Senate bill on abortion by calling for spending $11 billion over five years on ‘community health centers,’ which include Planned Parenthood clinics that provide abortions.

 “The bottom line,” Ms. Yoest contends, “is that the president wants to deploy words that sound soothing like ‘balance’ and ‘adjust.’  Meanwhile, the courts are rendering precedent with stark words like ‘mandatory.’

“When confronted by House Minority Leader John Boehner about abortion funding during the health-care summit last week, the president dropped his head and looked down at the table.”  Concludes Yoest: “How revealing.”

Charmaine Yoest happens to be president and CEO of “Americans United for Life”.  I didn’t mention that until now, since some would automatically discredit her observations by knowing her convictions.  But it’s only fair.

The defenders of the public “option” to de-regulate abortion, and even to mandate abortion providing and funding in an increasing variety of ways, have fine-tuned their rhetoric and are masters at side-stepping the criticism of their determined agenda.  People like Yoest, however biased they may be when it comes to the issues of life, have learned to stick to the statistics and to the cold, hard facts.  One of these facts is that, without the necessary restrictions and language that is absolutely clear, legislation related to the issue of abortion will always lend itself to a progressively muddier mindset and an interpretive license which, with the eroding effect of case upon case, will lead to a continued expansion of abortion.  In this sense, we need men and women with guts.  Just as President Bush took the hit, and a great deal of ridicule, for restricting stem cell research, for cutting the ties between abortion services and foreign aid, and for defending Terri Schiavo’s right to life, so too will people like Yoest and Stupak pay the price for sticking up for the yet-unborn.   They wouldn’t want it otherwise.  The controversy caused by their adamant opposition to the abortion agenda has the blessed effect of getting your average, half-asleep American involved in the issue.