Debate Heats Up Over Abortion in Health Care

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If the topic is abortion, you can expect a fight and healthcare reform is proving to be no different.

Pro-life groups accuse the White House of misleading the American public on the issue of abortion.

In the current healthcare reform bill in the House, there is no language specifically saying abortions will be federally funded.  President Barack Obama says anybody who says the government will be funding abortions isn't telling the truth.

"There are some folks out there who are frankly bearing false witness," he said.  "You've heard that this is all going to mean government funding of abortion.  this is not true."

Still, the pro-life community doesn't trust the president. they say just listen to his remarks delivered to pro-choice planned parenthood during the presidential campaign.

When asked at a town hall meeting how reproductive and women's health would fit into healthcare reform, Obama responded, "In my mind, reproductive care is essential care.  It is basic care and so it is at the center and at the heart of the plan that I propose."

Pro-life members of Congress have tried to add language to the bill specifically saying abortions will not be covered.

Yet, what is in the bill is language by a pro-choice Democrat that has added even more confusion to the debate. Pro-choice moderates say the amendment by Louis Capps is a compromise.

"You'll see language that explicitly leaves in place all federal protections on abortion and that truly is abortion neutral," said Rachel Laser of Third Way.

While it is true that the bill technically says public funds are not to be used for abortions and doesn't list abortion as part of an "essential benefit" package, critics argue the bill also has an accounting loophole in it. They say the bill would allow the public option to cover abortions with non-government money-- in other words, premiums paid by individuals or employers.

The Capps amendment would also provide government money to help low and moderate income persons purchase private insurance plans that included abortions.

The respected non-partisan Factcheck.org-- who has come to the White House's defense on many false healthcare claims in the past-- doesn't side with this issue, saying they "judge that the president goes too far when he calls the statements that government would be funding abortions 'fabrications.'"

As for the House bill, it's a matter of fact that it would allow both a "public plan" and newly subsidized private plans to cover all abortions.

The House may also have potential problems over the abortion language in the bill.

Conservative Democrat Bart Stupak is publicly speaking out saying that it is very possible that dozens of conservative and moderate Democrats will oppose a final healthcare bill if the abortion language in the bill is not changed.

*Original Broadcast Date: August 26, 2009.

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