Monday, March 08, 2010

Federal funding of Abortion: the bogeyman that isn't

Democratic Michigan Representative Bart Stupak (at left) is burnishing his pro-life resume by fighting the abortion straw man in the current health care reform debate. Jonathan Karl on ABC News has a short story which clearly shows that Stupak is disingenuous at best about the abortion coverage.

The Senate's HR 3590 has language that explicitly denies use of federal money for abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or if the mother's life is in danger.


Page 1164 FUNDS.—Funds awarded under a grant under this section...
(B) may not be used to provide abortions.

How much clearer can it be?

Stupak and other pro-life congressmen point to the Manager's Amendment which has a provision calling for further funding of Community Health Centers for indigent care. Currently 1200 such centers operate and provide basic medical care in under-served areas. I can find no information that these centers provide federally funded abortions and my hunch is that they do not since this would certainly have caused an uproar before now. Pro-choice groups have furnished information packets instructing these clinics how to offer abortion services, but this is certainly not evidence of federally funded abortion.

In particular, the National Right to Life (NRL) has provided an extremely misleading position paper that all but accuses Community Health Centers of using federal funds to provide abortions-- which they most assuredly do not. Pro-choice individuals and groups are respectful of conscientious objections to abortion provision, so why can't the NRL be respectful enough to refrain from partial truths?

Last December, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) wrote an editorial with the same inaccurate false concerns about abortions funded by federal tax dollars. Furthermore, Hatch made the odd claim that the Senate bill could force medical providers to perform procedures "that violate their conscience." Huh? Is he implying that the Senate bill would require physicians to perform abortions?

Page 123 of the Senate bill: (3) PROVIDER CONSCIENCE PROTECTIONS.—No
individual health care provider or health care facility
may be discriminated against because of a willingness or an unwillingness, if doing so is contrary to the religious or moral beliefs of the provider or facility, to provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.

The deliberation is obviously off the rails.

Let's face it, anti-choice representatives who are emboldened to political action committees for funding and support will stop at nothing to create false furor over abortion at every turn. The fact is that abortion rights are protected by the law of the land and painting every legislative debate with the brush of abortion only paralyzes progress on such important things as health care reform. Stupak and his ilk need to get over it; either pass legislation that outlaws abortion, or just shut up already. What's next, holding up road maintenance funds because good public roads will only make it easier for women to get abortions? Or will we just outright prohibit public roads to be used to go to the doctor altogether?

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