As Congress prepares to consider President Obama's health care reform this week, the legislation is drawing opposition from both sides of the aisle. At a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, ten lawmakers warned that the current draft of the health care bill will force taxpayers, businesses and insurance providers to pay for abortions.
Reaction from Democrats first became public when a group of 19 congressmen, some of them "Blue Dog Democrats," sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the end of June.
In their letter, the group of 19 warned Pelosi that they would not vote for any health care reform bill that either mandates government coverage for abortion or allows the Health Benefits Advisory Committee to recommend abortion services be included under covered benefits or as part of a benefits package.
"We believe in a culture that supports and respects the right to life and is dedicated to the protection and preservation of families. Therefore, we cannot support any health care reform proposal unless it explicitly excludes abortion from the scope of any government-defined or subsidized health insurance plan," the congressmen wrote.
On Tuesday afternoon, ten Republican congressmen, led by Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Joe Pitts (R-PA), held a press conference to denounce any attempt to use the health care reform bill to include coverage for abortions.
Congressman Smith railed against the "rush to enact Mr. Obama’s exceedingly expensive, complex and potentially ruinous health care restructuring plan without the benefit of comprehensive hearings on and through vetting of the actual bill text."
"Obamacare is the greatest threat ever to the lives and wellness of unborn children and their mothers since Roe v. Wade was rendered in 1973," Smith charged.
Recalling President Obama's comment to the Pope about wanting to reduce the incidence of abortion, the New Jersey congressman said that the "ugly truth is that his so-called health care reform bill, if enacted, will lead to millions of additional dead children and wounded mothers."
The group of representatives, which included doctors and pro-life women, asserted that the funding of abortions under Obama's health care restructuring will increase the number of abortions.
Agreeing with the 19 Democrat congressmen, Rep. Smith cited a Guttmacher Institute study that found "20%-35% of Medicaid eligible women who would chose abortion carry their pregnancies to term when public funds are not available."
"Government funding, facilitation, promotion and mandates will cause abortion rates to skyrocket," he warned.
"Obamacare opens the spigot of public funding and does more to facilitate abortion than any action since Roe. This is the big one!" Smith cried.
In addition to direct funding of abortion by the government, Smith explained that the legislation "vests new, huge, sweeping powers in an Obama-appointed committee tasked with establishing 'essential health benefits' that all plans must include."
These "essential benefits" include abortion, Smith said, citing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and remarks Obama made as a senator.
Rep. Joe Pitts explained at today's press conference that the proposed legislation "will affect Americans across the country throughout all walks of life. It will affect the insurance companies that are forced to cover abortion. It will affect the employers, who will be forced to purchase plans that cover abortion. It will affect the individuals, who are forced to pay for coverage of abortion."
"In fact, any individual who does not have a plan that meets the minimum benefit standards, which will undoubtedly include abortion unless it is excluded, will be forced to pay a 2 percent penalty. Any employer who does not provide coverage that meets these standards will pay an 8 percent penalty.
"This legislation will mandate and subsidize abortion and then tax the Americans who stand for one of the very principles that this nation was founded on – the right to life," Pitts said.
According to Rep. Smith, the bill contains "another egregious flaw."
"Obamacare will also exponentially expand the number of abortion mills in the country by requiring that any insurance provider must contract with 'essential community providers, as specified by the Commissioner’," he said.
Smith pointed out that "Planned Parenthood, an organization that aborted over 305,000 children in 2007 alone, launched a multimedia blitz on June 17th, billing itself as an 'essential community health care provider.'"