WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The main health care plan in the U.S. House of Representatives would lead to an increase in the number of abortions, directly conflicting with one of President Obama's campaign goals, a U.S. representative from New Jersey believes.
Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., says the number of abortions would go up under the House plan because it would pay for them, not only through the government-run public option but also through the federal subsidizing of private plans.
"[I]f [Obama] does succeed and we get these ... plans promoting abortion, then ... we will see more abortions," Smith said Sept. 10 during a Family Research Council Action webcast about the health care debate. "For a man who argues he wants to see a reduction of abortions, nothing could be further from the truth."
Said FRCA President Tony Perkins, "It's only common sense that when the government pays for something it's going to get more of it."
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Smith expressed frustration that Obama's public statement about abortion during his Sept. 9 address to Congress and the nation apparently conflicts with the Democratic-backed bills. During that speech Obama said under his plan "no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions," when in fact the House bill (H.R. 3200) explicitly covers abortion and details how it will be funded. Obama seems to have bought into the talking points used by supporters of the House bill, who argue that federal dollars won't be funding abortion because, under an amendment by Rep. Lois Capps, 1) abortions in a public option would be funded only by enrollees' premiums and 2) private insurance companies that receive federal money would be forced to segregate their internal accounts and pay for any abortions without federal subsidies. Capps, D-Calif., is pro-choice.
Smith previously called the amendment "[one] of the most deceptive amendments I have ever seen." The amendment was passed only after amendments that explicitly excluded abortion from the plan were defeated.
"The president is very adept, very adroit, at the art of misdirection, saying one thing that may have a kernel of truth in it while the larger untruth remains," he said. "… After a while the American people ought to be much angered by the deception game. Be for or against [federal abortion funding], but don't play these games."
A new poll released Thursday suggests that Americans oppose abortion funding in the health care plan. By a 55-42 percent margin, adults agreed with the statement, "Whatever my opinion on the issue, I think it would be wrong for the government to pay for abortions." By a 52-44 percent margin, they also agreed that "I do not want the government to help fund health care plans that fund abortions." Fifty-eight percent disagreed and 38 percent agreed with this statement: "If the government is going to make a public health plan available for all Americans it has an obligation to provide abortion services under that plan."
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On a related matter, 43 percent said they would be less likely to support a health care plan if the government paid for abortions; 8 percent said it would make them more likely and 46 percent said it would make no difference.
The poll of 800 registered voters was conducted Aug. 30-Sept. 1 by Public Opinion Strategies on behalf of the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life organization.