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NRL News
Page 1
February/March 2010
Volume 37
Issue 2-3

Obama, Pelosi, Reid Launch Final Push to Enact Pro-Abortion Health Care Bill

WASHINGTON (February 25, 2010)--At NRL News deadline on February 25, President Obama and top Democratic congressional leaders are launching a final all-out effort to pass massive health care restructuring legislation that incorporates an array of pro-abortion federal subsidies and mandates.

The Senate passed the pro-abortion legislation (H.R. 3590) on December 24. However, so far the White House and Democratic leaders have been unable to muster the votes to pass it in the House of Representatives, partly because of resistance to the pro-abortion provisions among pro-life Democrats, led by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mi.), and by NRLC and others.

The White House game plan was seriously disrupted on January 19, when Republican Scott Brown captured the U.S. Senate seat that had been held for decades by Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.). The outcome was widely viewed as a reflection of public opposition to the sweeping approaches to health care restructuring that the Obama Administration and top congressional Democrats have made a top priority.

Nevertheless, President Obama and the top leaders of his party on Capitol Hill have regrouped and are going all out to try to push the legislation into law. "We will pass a bill," vowed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) on February 22. Democrats currently control the 435-member House by a 77-seat margin.

Last November, the House removed pro-abortion provisions from its own version of health care legislation, H.R. 3962, by adopting an NRLC-backed amendment offered by Stupak and Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.). The Stupak-Pitts Amendment passed 240194, with support from 64 Democrats--one-fourth of all the House Democrats--and all except one Republican. But Obama opposed the Stupak language, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nv.) led a successful effort to keep it out of the Senate bill, H.R. 3590.

"The scope of the pro-abortion provisions in the Senate bill have been vastly understated by the mainstream news media," said NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson. "By the conclusion of the amending process in the Senate, H.R. 3590 was the most expansive pro-abortion piece of legislation ever to reach the floor of either house of Congress for a vote, since Roe v. Wade. The Senate bill would allow direct federal funding of abortion on demand through Community Health Centers, would institute federal subsidies for private health plans that cover abortion on demand--including some federally administered plans--and would authorize federal mandates that could require even non-subsidized private plans to cover elective abortion."

A 13-page analysis of the Senate bill sent to Congress by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) on January 20 said that under the premium subsidy program "federal subsidies will be used to help expand access nationwide to abortion coverage," and that a provision dealing with Community Health Centers "seems to create a new and expansive funding stream for health care services, not covered by any restraint on use of the funds for elective abortions."

Since December, NRLC lobbyists and state affiliates have concentrated on educating members of the House, particularly Democratic lawmakers who oppose federal promotion of abortion, regarding the multiple pro-abortion components in the Senate bill. A January 14 letter from NRLC to U.S. House members, explaining the multiple pro-abortion components of the Senate-passed bill, is posted here: http://www.nrlc.org/AHC/HouseLetteronAbortionProvisions.html

On February 22, in an attempt to jumpstart the stalled legislation, President Obama released a list of proposed changes to the Senate bill. "The President's proposed changes would not fix any of the abortion problems," Johnson said.

Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention, expressed opposition to the legislation on several grounds, noting that it "provides totally inadequate protections against taxpayer funds being used to pay for abortions. . . . You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig."

In an interview with Fox News on February 24, Stupak said that the Senate abortion language was "unacceptable." In other interviews, Stupak predicted that 10 or more House Democrats who voted to pass the House health care bill in November would refuse to support the Senate-passed bill, even with the changes recommended by President Obama, because of the pro-abortion problems.

NRLC's Johnson predicted that this group of lawmakers will come under increasing pressure from the White House and from Speaker Pelosi during the weeks ahead. "They need to receive encouragement from constituents who want them to hold fast and refuse to support the pro-abortion Senate bill, no matter what claims, promises, or threats come down from the White House or the Democratic leadership," Johnson said.

The Obama-backed legislation would also would force rationing of lifesaving medical treatment (see story on page ** of this issue).

Action Needed Now!

The legislative situation can change rapidly. For the most up to date information, visit www.nrlactioncenter.com frequently. This NRLC website has tools to make it easy for you to send timely messages to those who represent you in Congress.
During March and April, the top priority is to urge members of the House of Representatives, especially House Democrats, to oppose the Senate-passed health care legislation backed by President Obama, H.R. 3590.

While it is also good for U.S. senators to receive such communications, the Senate already approved the bill last December. (The Senate might soon take up a second bill, a so-called "reconciliation" bill, that would adjust some provisions, but this bill will not correct the pro-abortion provisions in H.R. 3590.)

If the House approves H.R. 3590, it will go straight to President Obama, who will promptly sign it into law. Therefore, the urgent priority is that House members receive encouragement from constituents to oppose the bill.

The office of any U.S. House member can be reached by telephone, through the Capitol Switchboard, 202-225-3121. If you do not know who represents you in the House, just tell the Capitol Switchboard operator your zip code, and you will be connected with the correct office. Once you are connected, register your strong opposition to the Senate-passed health bill, H.R. 3590. Ask the lawmaker's staffperson to take down your address--say that you would like to receive a written explanation of the lawmaker's position on the bill.

At www.nrlactioncenter.com, you will find guidance on additional ways to communicate with your representatives, and links to their voting records on key pro-life issues.