White House official: Abortion funding will be part of health care reform debate

pporszag200709 Budget Director Peter Orszag

The White House budget chief has said that he will not rule out whether a government-funded public health insurance proposal will allow taxpayer money to pay for abortions. Rather, the matter will be “part of the debate.”

The White House’s Office of Budget and Management Chief Peter Orszag, speaking to Fox News Sunday, said he is not ready to say whether abortion services would be part of a final taxpayer-funded health care package being considered by Congress for about one third of the 50 million uninsured Americans.

Speaking about abortion, he said “I think that that will wind up being part of the debate. I am not prepared to say explicitly that right now. It's obviously a controversial issue, and it's one of the questions that is playing out in this debate.”

“I’m not prepared to rule it out,” he added.

The health care reform bill is being debated in the U.S. House and Senate. President Barack Obama is seeking its passage by August. The package is estimated to cost as much as $1.5 trillion over ten years.


Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) said abortion should not be an issue in the debate since so many Americans oppose taxpayer-funded abortion.

“No matter what your views are on abortion, you shouldn't ask people to use their tax dollars if they think that abortion is taking a life -- to use their tax dollars for those purpose -- for that purpose,” he commented on Fox News Sunday.

“I would hate to see the health care debate go down over that issue,” he added. “So hopefully we won't get ourselves wrapped around the wheel of abortion in this debate.”

The Obama Administration and the Democratic Congress have already expanded funding for abortion and abortion-promoting groups. In January, President Obama rescinded the Mexico City Policy which bars funding for groups that promote or perform abortion overseas.

Last week the House voted to eliminate a ban on local funding for abortions in Washington, D.C. and to broaden the circumstances in which federal funds for abortions may be used in the District.

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