CBNNews.com - The Obama Administration has not decided if abortions will be covered under any future universal health care plans, a top White House official told CBN News.
In an exclusive interview, White House Policy Director Melody Barnes told CBN News that President Obama is still committed to reducing abortions in America. But she emphasized that funding for family planning services remains crucial.
Click on The Brody File links below for more on Barne's conversation with David Brody on the abortion issue and the White House.
"We haven' proposed a specifics benefits package or a particular healthcare proposal so we're going to be engaging with Congress to have this conversation…We haven't had that conversation yet," Barnes, told CBN News Thursday.
Barnes said that it's important that family planning services be a part of a discussion on reducing abortions in this country.
"There are some who may disagree on that issue, but I think the vast majority of Americans believe that that is important," she said. "It's something that should be available to women, so that's an area for discussion."
"There are people. who have a pro-life record but at the same time are strong supporters of family planning and contraception," Barnes explained. "So I think bringing people around the table who may disagree on some issues, but again are looking for those places where we can agree and we can move the debate forward, is important."
Adoption is another area where the White House believes common ground can be found.
"The President has talked about both reducing unintended pregnancies," Barnes told CBN News. "But he's also talked about supporting maternal and child health and supporting adoption in this country, all of those things being part and parcel of a whole."
Many pro-life groups are skeptical of the Obama Administration on the abortion issue because of recent moves to lift restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, rescind the pro-life Mexico City policy. and provide a more narrow definition of abortion conscious clause protections.
Bit Barnes believes the President is an honest broker and cites the creation of his Faith Based Office of Neighborhood partnerships as evidence.
"I think that sends a strong signal that he is committed to working with and talking to people who may have views different from his own and again looking for those areas of common ground," she said.
Pro-life groups believe it's just a matter of time before Congress takes up The Freedom of Choice Act, a bill they say would wipe out many pro-life laws across the country.
Obama has expressed a willingness to sign it into law, but Barnes says that is not the focus of his efforts.
"When that issue and if that issue were to come before him, then he would make a decision about it," she said.
The White House has been consistent in saying that they want the focus to center on the need to reduce abortions in America. But can there be any true common ground? Some on both sides of the abortion war remain skeptical.
Barnes says it's important to make a good faith effort.
"You don't know until you try, and if we continue to stay in our corners and not engage with one another and not try to find those areas of compromise or common ground or common belief we won't ever know if we'll have the opportunity to really create a better life for women and families and children that are struggling," she said.
"That's what I think motivates this President to do the work that he does," she explained. "We also believe that it's important to bring people around that table, to have some of those difficult conversations to try and move the country forward. "