The blog for Massachusetts Citizens for Life: the pro-life movement in the Bay State since 1973.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Health Care! Now or never! Call immediately!
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is planning to ram the massive health care bill (H.R. 3200) through the House on short notice, without allowing consideration of a critical pro-life amendment. The House must vote on a key procedural resolution called "the rule" before it can take up the bill. Right now, the rule will not allow the amendment needed to specifically exclude abortion from the bill.
Please TELEPHONE your Congressman IMMEDIATELY with a clear and firm message urging a NO vote on the rule, which is the procedural vote that would allow passage of H.R. 3200 with no amendments allowed. The No vote will simply allow amendments. Urge also that he/she vote against the pro-abortion bill itself.
I know you have already called and written your Congressmen about the health care bills, it is critical that you call again now. This will just take a few minutes. It is fine to try calling tonight (Monday). You may get someone or an answering service and can leave a message. If not, please call first thing in the morning.
There is more explanation below if you are interested. It is now or never with this bill! Thank you for responding to save lives! Anne Fox, President
John W. Olver (D-01), 202-225-5335 Richard E. Neal (D-02), 202-225-5601 James P. McGovern (D-03), 202-225-6101 Barney Frank (D-04), 202-225-5931 Niki Tsongas (D-05), Phone: (202)225-3411 John F. Tierney (D-06), 202-225-8020 Edward J. Markey (D-07, 202-225-2836 Michael Capuano (D-08), 202-225-5111 Stephen F. Lynch (D-09), 202-225-8273 William D. Delahunt (D-10), 202-225-3111
Dem Leaders Plan to Block Vote on Pro-Life Health Amendment, Fearing It Otherwise "Certain to Prevail": AP
Stupak Leads Pro-Life House Dems in Clash Over Health Bill Abortion Funding
By Kathleen Gilbert
WASHINGTON, D.C., October 23, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A final attempt to block a vast federal policy shift in favor of abortion will not be granted a vote as the U.S. House of Representatives considers President Obama's health care bill, because Democrat leaders fear the attempt would likely succeed, reports the Associated Press today.
As the health care bill prepares for a final battle on the House floor, Democrat Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan is going head-to-head against his own party leaders, who are steadily pressuring him and about two dozen other pro-life Democrats to fall in line behind the abortion-promoting measure.
After his work to include abortion-blocking language in earlier versions of the bill that was thwarted at every turn, Stupak has vowed one more effort at a pro-life amendment on the House floor.
But Associated Press writer Erica Wagner reports that, since a pro-life amendment would likely attract support from both parties, Democratic leaders plan to block Stupak from offering it: "Such an amendment would be almost certain to prevail, since it likely would attract the votes of most Republicans as well as some Democrats. So Democratic leaders won't let Stupak offer it."
If the vote is blocked, Stupak has repeatedly vowed that he and other pro-life lawmakers will resort to a last-ditch effort to thwart the measure by assembling "no" votes on a procedural measure that needs to pass before debate can begin.
Because of an amendment that pro-abortion Rep.s Henry Waxman and Lois Capps pushed through the House Energy and Commerce Committee in July, the House bill explicitly opens the subsidies collected under the public plan to abortion, directs subsidy monies to plans that cover abortion, and requires each U.S. region to have an insurance plan that covers abortion. The Capps amendment largely mirrors language found in the Senate Finance Committee's version of the bill.
This week, the House Democrats launched its first official survey feeling out how lawmakers will likely vote on the health care overhaul - a traditional time for leaders to focus pressure on lawmakers who have strayed from the party line.
Stupak, whose pro-life amendment was rejected in the July meeting, has taken a leading role alongside GOP pro-life lawmakers against the bill's vast expansion of abortion. Stupak lightheartedly referred to his disagreement with Rep. Waxman, with whom he has continued discussing the abortion issue. "I'm a little taller. Our minds don't meet," said Stupak of the shorter Waxman.
Waxman, like other Democrat leadership including Nancy Pelosi, President Obama, and White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, continued to deny that the money directed to abortion providers under the bill qualifies as "federal funding for abortion services." "We have done everything we can to ensure that there will be no federal funds for abortion services," said Waxman.
The Capps amendment contains a provision to segregate federal funds to abortion-covering plans such that none would pay for abortions directly. However, as the funds would nonetheless free up other money to pay for abortions, the National Right to Life Committee's legislative director Douglas Johnson decried the measure as a "bookkeeping scam" designed to give the amendment the appearance of a compromise measure.
WASHINGTON (October 23, 2009) -- The nation's largest pro-life organization has put members of the U.S. House of Representatives on notice that it regards an upcoming procedural vote on the health care legislation as a vote on whether to establish a new federal government program that would directly pay for elective abortions with federal funds.
In a "scorecard advisory" letter sent this week to U.S. House members, the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), the federation of right-to-life organizations in all 50 states, focused on a key procedural resolution (called "the rule") that the House must approve before it can take up the massive health care bill (H.R. 3200). The "rule" will specify what amendments to the bill, if any, may be considered on the House floor.
In a story transmitted today (October 23), the Associated Press accurately reported that the House Democratic leadership currently does not intend to allow the House to vote on an amendment sponsored by Congressmen Bart Stupak (D-Mi.) and Joseph Pitts (R-Pa.), and supported by NRLC, which would, as the AP reported, "include the Hyde amendment restrictions in the health overhaul bill."
The AP reported: "Such an amendment would be almost certain to prevail . . . So Democratic leaders won't let Stupak offer it. Instead, it appears they may have to take the risk of letting Stupak try to block action on the underlying bill, which he intends to do by assembling 'no' votes on a procedural measure [the "rule"] that needs to pass before debate can begin."
As approved by Democratic-controlled House committees, H.R. 3200 contains at least two major components that implicate abortion policy. It creates a new program of premium subsidies for health insurance. The AP story discusses pro-life objections to allowing those subsidies to go to private plans that cover elective abortions. Oddly, however, the AP story does not mention the other major abortion-related controversy generated by the bill, which centers on the proposed "public plan."
NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson commented: "The bill explicitly authorizes the public plan, a federal agency program, to pay for elective abortions. Democratic leaders, including President Obama, have claimed that no federal funds would be used to pay for abortions, but this is a deception, because the public plan will be a federal agency program that can spend only federal funds. The federal government would pay abortion providers for performing elective abortions -- a sharp break from decades of federal policy."
"The public plan problem and the premium-subsidy problem are really separate and distinct -- the bill would need to be amended to get abortion out of the federal government plan, even if the premium subsidy program did not exist," Johnson said. "Recent polls show strong public opposition to government funding of abortion and abortion coverage."
NRLC has obtained and today makes publicly available a memorandum prepared for a Member of Congress by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS), which confirms all of the monies spent by the public plan would be federal funds (just as NRLC has previously documented) -- implicitly refuting the claim by Democratic leaders and President Obama that no "federal funds" would be used to pay for abortions.
"The claim by Congressional Democratic leaders that the public plan, a federal agency program, could pay for abortions with 'private' funds, is a brazen deception -- a political hoax," Johnson said. "The claim is implausible on its face, and it collapses if subjected to anything more than the most superficial scrutiny. But for months, unfortunately, many journalists have allowed the Democratic leadership, Obama Administration officials, and President Obama himself, to get away with many demonstrably false statements regarding the abortion-related components of the pending bills."
For example, in recent weeks White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has said several times that existing law (the Hyde Amendment) would prevent the programs created by the health bills from funding abortions. Although this claim, too, is demonstrably false, no mainstream news operation or fact-checking operation has rebuked the White House for these deceptive statements. Today's AP story does, however, correctly observe that "the Democrats' health overhaul bill would create a new stream of federal funding not covered by the [current abortion] restrictions."
While campaigning for the presidency, Barack Obama committed to Planned Parenthood that he would cover abortion in his health care reform legislation and in its public plan. "The pending legislation would establish a federal government program that would directly fund elective abortions, just as Obama promised Planned Parenthood," Johnson said. "President Obama is trying to smuggle into law a federal abortion-funding program behind smokescreens of misleading rhetoric and calculated efforts at misdirection."
NRLC has made available detailed documentation on the abortion-related components of the pending health-care bills, including bills approved by two U.S. Senate committees, on its website at http://www.nrlc.org/ahc.