When Congressman Joe Wilson’s shouted “You lie!” directed at Barack Hussein Obama,  during his speech to the joint-session of Congress last Wednesday when Obama said that Obamacare would not cover illegal aliens, I was shocked, as I am sure that everyone else was.  Yet, he followed in the long tradition of heckling of presidents of both parties at such events.
So it was not the fact that he heckled that shocked me and everyone else that heard him, but what he said. As Mark Steyn has pointed out in his interview with Hugh Hewitt on Hewitt’s radio program last Thursday, parliamentarians can shout almost anything except  “you lie.”
On further reflection I was disappointed that Joe Wilson had chosen to risk public and Congressional censure over immigration issues rather than over the most important issue: the threat to human life posed by government dollars going to support the abortion industry.
It should be obvious to anyone who has taken the time to study the proposed legislation that Obamacare will indeed use our tax dollars to support the abortion industry.
Here are Phil Lawler’s and Douglas Johnson’s analyses:
Abortion and health-care reform: the truth, please
by Phil Lawler
Posted Sep. 10, 2009 9:10 AM ||

In his Wednesday-night address to Congress, President Obama flatly denied that his preferred health-care reform proposal would provide government funding for abortions. Here are his words:
One more misunderstanding I want to clear up – under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.
Yet pro-life activists continue to insist that the plan would use tax dollars to pay for abortions. How can we resolve this contradiction?
1. Since Roe v. Wade, abortion has been a legal medical procedure in all 50 American states.
a. Under the Obama plan, if a woman in a government-subsidized health plan seeks this legal procedure, she will be denied coverage.
b. President Obama told Congress a lie.
2. The head of the US bishops’ pro-life committee has said that the Obama proposal is “unacceptable” because of its abortion funding.
a. The US bishops’ conference, which has issued repeated statements endorsing the call for health-care reform, actually wants to scuttle the plan for reform.
b. President Obama told Congress a lie.
3. Early in his presidency, Obama directed the Department of Health and Human Services to remove the “conscience clause” protection for health-care workers who oppose abortion and rescinded the “Mexico City policy” that had prevented taxpayer subsidies for abortion advocacy.
a. The President has undergone a change of heart that he never disclosed, and now backs “conscience clause” protection.
b. President Obama told Congress a lie.
4. NARAL Pro-Choice America is giving enthusiastic coverage to the drive for passage of the Obama plan.
a. NARAL Pro-Choice America will be happy with a plan that does not provide abortion coverage
b. President Obama told Congress a lie.
5. The Washington Post concedes that in order to justify his claim that the plan does not cover abortion, the President is forced to use accounting tricks that pro-lifers will recognize as “little more than a shell game.”
a. The Post– which endorsed Obama’s candidacy in 2008, and endorses his health-care reform proposal now– secretly opposes the legislation and wants to kill it.
b. President Obama told Congress a lie.
Doug Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee has provided a full explanation of the tortured logic that the President and his allies have used to justify their claim in a National Review piece. [SEE THE JOHNSON ARTICLE BELOW]
Keep in mind that the discussion above covers only the issue of abortion. Catholics should also be asking whether the Obama proposal offers coverage for contraception, sterilization, in vitro fertilization, and sex-change surgery– and demanding more forthright answers than the ones the President offered in his address to Congress.
Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Truth About Health-Care Reform and Abortion
by Douglas Johnson
National Review Online The Corner
Wednesday, September 09, 2009

One of the biggest whoppers of the summer is the argument that the Capps Amendment to the Obama-backed health-care bill (an amendment that was actually written by pro-abortion champion Rep. Henry Waxman and his veteran staff) represents a “compromise.” A meeting of the minds between Planned Parenthood (which loves the Capps Amendment) and the congressman from West Hollywood is not likely to be much of a compromise, and this one is as phony as they come.

The Capps Amendment, if enacted, would insert the federal government into the abortion-funding business in two very big ways, both of which would mark sharp breaks from longstanding federal policy.

In her Washington Post column today (aptly titled “The Next Health Reform Myth”), Ruth Marcus never comes right out and explains that the Capps Amendment explicitly authorizes the government-run insurance program — the “public plan” — to fund elective abortions. The Obama Administration would certainly exercise this option — not only because of the strong pro-abortion views of Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, but also because Barack Obama himself directly promised Planned Parenthood in 2007 that his public plan would “provide all essential services, including reproductive services,” and that such services would be “at the center, and at the heart of the plan that I propose.” (His campaign confirmed, and no one disputes, that “reproductive services” include elective abortion.)

Obama has never repudiated this promise. (You can watch videos of him making the promise here and here.) Ruth Marcus adopts the abortion-lobby line that “if” the public option covers elective abortion, the abortions “can be financed only from a separate pool of purely private contributions.” This argument is beyond misleading — it is truly absurd. The “public option” would be a program within the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and would be headed by the HHS secretary. Under the Capps Amendment, abortion providers would send their bills to the DHHS. They would receive payment in the form of checks drawn on a federal Treasury account — that is, checks drawn on federal-government funds, public funds. This would amount to direct federal-government funding of elective abortion.

With few exceptions, funds under the control of and expended by an agency of the federal government cannot accurately be described as “private funds.” For example, the funds in a citizen’s bank account are private, but once he or she writes a check to the IRS to pay income taxes, the funds become federal-government funds, public funds, deposited in a U.S. Treasury account. The same is true here. Once a public-plan enrollee makes a “premium” payment to the DHHS, the funds are no longer “private” — they are federal-government funds, as truly and completely as the funds that the government gathers from income taxes, user fees, fines, and other sources.

(The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) has issued a memorandum proving that all of the funds that would be expended by the “public option,” and all of the funds that would flow to the premium-subsidy program, would in fact be “federal funds,” both as a matter of law and in the usage of those terms by federal agencies. The memorandum is posted here. It contains links to primary documents from the Congressional Budget Office, the Government Accountability Office, and the Congressional Research Service.)

Ruth Marcus and the others who are attempting to label government-agency funds as “private” are doing so for a transparently political purpose: to conceal the reality that H.R. 3200 would establish direct federal-government funding of elective abortion by a government insurance plan, and would also result in large-scale federal subsidies for private health plans that pay for elective abortions. Both of these changes would be sharp departures from longstanding federal policy.

Marcus’s comparison between the proposed federal insurance plan paying for abortions under the bill, and some states currently paying for abortions under Medicaid, really makes no sense at all. Each of us lives under two sovereigns — the federal government and a state government (unless one lives in a federal enclave). Under the Hyde Amendment, no federal funds may flow to any trust fund that covers any abortions (except abortions in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is endangered). But of course this does not prevent a state from setting up its own program to pay for abortions for people who are Medicaid-eligible, or for anybody else. Nor would the NRLC-backed Stupak Amendment to the Obama health bill, which would prevent federal subsidies for abortion, prevent states from setting up their own programs to pay for abortions or abortion insurance. This really has nothing to do with the subject of the current debate, which is whether elective abortion should be part of the proposed federal public insurance plan and whether private insurance plans that cover elective abortion should receive federal subsidies.

By the way, none of the funds that would be used to create and operate the proposed public-option and premium-subsidy programs would flow through the annual DHHS appropriations bill, which is why the two programs would not be covered by the Hyde Amendment in the first place. The NRLC has documented this point in a separate memorandum, and the same conclusion is supported by memoranda recently issued by the Congressional Research Service. It is an important point, especially since Senate majority leader Harry Reid, many other congressional Democrats, and President Obama recently have claimed that the Hyde Amendment would prevent the proposed new federal programs from paying for abortions.

Moreover, the Capps Amendment is boobytrapped in a manner that ensures that if renewal of the Hyde Amendment is blocked for a future fiscal year — a definite possibility, since President Obama opposes the Hyde Amendment — this would automatically extend an abortion mandate to the public plan. A lapse in the Hyde Amendment would also effectively remove the Capps requirement — which Marcus makes out to be a great concession — “that the exchanges include at least one plan without abortion coverage.” And, of course, a lapse in the Hyde Amendment would result in a resumption of federal funding of abortion on demand in Medicaid, a program in which the federal government was paying for 300,000 elective abortions annually when the Hyde Amendment was first passed in 1976.

Mainstream media journalists who adopt the untenable claim that a federal agency would spend “private” funds on abortion are allowing themselves to be manipulated in a way that misleads the public regarding the important public-policy issues at stake. The NRLC had a lot more to say about that in a media advisory released yesterday (which can be found here).

Finally, I wonder how many of those, like Ruth Marcus, who are currently trying to snooker the public into believing that the DHHS would be spending “private funds” on elective abortions through the public option, would also embrace the notion that other federal agencies — say, the CIA or the Pentagon — could expend federal Treasury funds in transactions that would be considered “private.”

— Douglas Johnson is legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee.

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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