Here We Go Again

Here We Go Again July 14, 2010

Updated Below

We’re back to the abortion and healthcare debate. True to form, the National Right to Life Committee is attacking a Pennsylvania high-risk insurance pool for supposedly subsidizing abortion. And of course Republican John Boehner leaped with lightning speed on the bandwagon.

But this is another major storm in a tiny teacup. The NRLC”s position is that federal subsidies for this high-risk pool (a paltry $160 million, mind you) will pay for abortion. Even though the guidelines say specifically that elective abortion cannot be covered, the NLRC says that the definition of elective abortion is so fluid under Pennsylvania law that pretty much anything barring sex selection can be covered. Except that this isn’t right.

As NPR’s Julie Rovner notes, both the Obama administration and Pennsylvania officials are on record as saying the NRLC’s interpretation is wrong – in these situations, federal law dominates, and the federal guidelines will not allow abortion coverage. There is no argument, and no confusion – except for the NRLC. This reminds me of the furore over the community health center funding – a desperate attempt to find some loophole to derail the whole reform process. What gets lost each time is what these programs actually achieve. The community health centers provide healthcare to poor women, delivered in a manner than respects subsidiarity. And high-risk pools – a Republican idea, by the way – are a way of insuring people who cannot get coverage on the individual insurance market. It is a stopgap measure until discrimination based on pre-existing conditions is finally banned in 2014.

As our friends at Faith in Public Life note, the people raising this issue today are the very people who opposed reform tooth-and-nail in the first place, and who desire repeal today. Yet again, they are using the unborn to serve their political ends. Sadly, the NRLC has shown that it cannot be trusted during this debate. I’m talking about the over-the-top allegations (death panels, anyone?). I’m talking about the inconsistency – remember, the NRLC fully supported the subsidization of the Medicare Advantage program during the Bush administration, even with incredibly loose protections against abortion (and today, Medicare Advantage is offering elective abortions in some places). The biggest mistake the USCCB made was working too closely with the NRLC.

Update from M.Z.:

As is the case with FEHB plans currently, and with the Affordable Care Act and the President’s related Executive Order more generally, in Pennsylvania and in all other states abortions will not be covered in the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) except in the cases of rape or incest, or where the life of the woman would be endangered.

Our policy is the same for both state and federally-run PCIP programs. We will reiterate this policy in guidance to those running the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan at both the state and federal levels. The contracts to operate the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan include a requirement to follow all federal laws and guidance.

Statement from Health and Human Services, quoted in entirety.

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  • Kurt

    The NRTLC has supported legislation that subsidies abortion when it serves the interest of secular conservatives. Yet the object to this which does not subsidize abortion.

    Their insitutional failure should be desired.

  • M.Z.

    It has been apparent for awhile now that in their ideal world abortion would be funded just to keep the issue as a cudgel. Someday these pro-life groups are going to be exposed as the right wing front groups that they are.

  • Matt Bowman

    If an abortion is done not to save the mother’s life, but becasue of a threat to her physicial health, is it an “elective abortion”? How about abortion because the child has a disability? A lot of medical people, I venture to say most, and certainly all “pro-choice” administration people, would call both those categories not “elective abortions.” But they aren’t rape, incest or life of the mother abortions either, which are supposed to be the only abortions for which federal funding is allowed. Therefore if the Pennsylvania high risk plan covers these abortions, it is using federal funds for abortions beyond the promise of Obama and of pro-life supporters of the law–all of whom insisted that the prospect of federal funds for such abortions was a phantom. Maybe you would say funding those abortions is OK in light of the good results of the law. But that’s different than saying that “no elective abortions” will prevent federal funding for disability or physical health abortions.

  • ctd

    You would be much more convincing in these posts if you would stick to what the law would or would not do. You do that, but then you go on to raise what are either irrelevant or unsubstantiated charges.

    “What gets lost each time is what these programs actually achieve.” If the programs fund any abortions at all, that is irrelevant — at least from the bishops’ perspective. So why bring it up?

    Right to Life’s inconsistency is also not relevant. Inconsistent actions have nothing do with the actor’s particular message.

    Why continue to imply that USCCB took its cues from NRLC? The mere fact that they partially agreed on some aspects of the reform law does not indicate any collusion or leadership by NRLC. Isn’t it possible that USCCB independently came to similar conclusions? (Remember that they did not agree with all of NRLC’s claims about the reform bills. They agreed with only a few.) Such statements are like those that accuse the bishops of taking their cues from PETA because the bishops’ positions on agriculture happen to agree with some of the positions of certain groups concerned about confined animal operations, who happen to agree with PETA on some issues.

  • Colin Gormley

    “NRLC”s position is that federal subsidies for this high-risk pool (a paltry $160 million, mind you) will pay for abortion.”

    Oh that its paltry makes it ok. Got it.

    Question: They say federal law prohibits it, yet there is no legal explanation for such either from what I saw on the NPR link or FIPL. No law citation, etc. Where is the legal rational for this belief?

  • J

    As I was reading, I was going to comment that the government Medicare program was used to support abortions and even earn abortion clinics more money as clinic workers use “medically necessary” loopholes in this to secure even more abortion funding, but I see that you already mention medicare.

    Does the Hyde amendment bar abortion funding in this program, or does NRLC have a case?

  • both the Obama administration and Pennsylvania officials are on record as saying the NRLC’s interpretation is wrong – in these situations, federal law dominates, and the federal guidelines will not allow abortion coverage.

    Gee, I feel better already. Unlike the NLRC, the Obama administration has nothing to gain from misleading the people about his healthcare plan. They’ve never lied about anything like their adoption of Bush-era torture policies. I’m glad they and not a court of law has deemed this to not cover elective abortions.

  • Blackadder

    As I understand it, NRLC’s objection is that the definition of what counts as a non-elective abortion is so broad as to render the limitation meaningless. Saying that the law doesn’t cover elective abortions isn’t responsive to this concern.

  • Kurt

    If an abortion is done not to save the mother’s life, but becasue of a threat to her physicial health, is it an “elective abortion”?

    According to the federal government, no, it is not an elective abortion. And therefore it will not be covered in the state-administered High Risk Pools insurance. Abortion is covered in the Bush/NRLC Medicare Advantage program, the USSCB supported UI COBRA legislation and the Republican FSA FEDS program.

  • Would you classify one abortion for any reason a “tempest in a teacup”. Is that the way the Catechism describes it?

  • Paul DuBois

    Matt, you are playing a “what if” game and then arguing against the result as if that was the actual position. The actual position of Health and Human Services (part of the administration) is quoted above. It states only in the case of Rape, incest or if the life of the mother is in danger. As always the decision as to if the mothers life is in danger will be left to the doctors at the hospital and that can be flexible. I wish we had the Stupak language which would have limited abortion more strictly than ever, but we did get the status quo. The law overtly does not allow abortion for the reasons you mention, so to argue them as reasons to oppose the law makes no sense. And I never saw anyone saying that funding for those abortions was ok in light of the good the law would do.

    In fact I have never heard any of the blogger on this sight support the pro-choice side. I have only heard them criticize the hypocrisy they see in conservative pro-life groups. The bloggers have been consistently pro-life, one even said he has stopped voting because he can’t find a moral side to vote for. Yet commenters keep arguing as if these articles support abortion.

  • I find it interesting that a post like this draws out a long line of critics, people who opposed this legislation for reasons other than abortion, and who don’t seem to give two hoots about either the uninsured or the prevalence of abortion funding in private insurance. These people will go to great lengths to see abortion where it does not exist, and ignore it under their noses (such as when it is paid for by their very own private insurance premiums). Funny, that.

  • Matt Bowman

    Kurt, when you said “According to the federal government, no, it is not an elective abortion. And therefore it will not be covered in the state-administered High Risk Pools insurance,” did you misplace a “not”? Because if it’s not an elective abortion, it WILL be covered in the state-administered High Risk pools insurance.

    If instead you mean that “According to the federal government, yes, it is an elective abortion. And therefore it will not be covered in the state-administered High Risk Pools insurance,” that is a plausible position I guess, except that no one has made that statement–no one from the federal government or the state has said that according to them “elective abortion” means exactly and completely all abortions other than Hyde-allowed abortions (rape incest and life of the mother). Instead they have chosen to say only that “elective abortions” aren’t covered, and as my examples of disability and physical health illustrate, there seem to be a lot of abortions that by the common meaning of the term “elective abortion” in medical regulatory parlance are not “elective” and yet are not rape, incest or life of the mother abortions.

    So I hope you are right if you are saying that the federal government definitively considers “elective abortions” to mean all non-Hyde-allowed abortions. But no one from the government has said that that you or MM or NPR has showed us. If they did say it, it would be a change in what “elective abortion” seems to otherwise mean to medical regulators (and certainly to what it means to “pro-choice” experts, bureaucrats and politicians in and supporting this administration).

    MM has proposed two basic assertions: that NRLC is wrong on the facts that Obamacare is covering abortions beyond what Hyde allows, and that NRLC is wrong on the judgment that Obamacare should be opposed. For the first statement to be true you would have to be able to show, and not just assert, that elective abortions in this high risk pool means all non-Hyde-allowed abortions, including for example physical health and disability abortions. If any abortions are paid for in this high risk plan with federal dollars that Hyde would not otherwise have allowed to be paid for, then to that extent NRLC has its facts right. If so, you can continue to criticize their judgment for opposing Obamacare, but not on the basis that they got this fact wrong.

  • M.Z.

    To reiterate what I added above to MM’s post, here is HHS’s press release:

    As is the case with FEHB plans currently, and with the Affordable Care Act and the President’s related Executive Order more generally, in Pennsylvania and in all other states abortions will not be covered in the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) except in the cases of rape or incest, or where the life of the woman would be endangered.

    Our policy is the same for both state and federally-run PCIP programs. We will reiterate this policy in guidance to those running the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan at both the state and federal levels. The contracts to operate the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan include a requirement to follow all federal laws and guidance.

  • Thanks, MZ, for adding the basic facts. But facts don’t mean much in the relativistic right-wing bubble.

  • Matt Bowman

    MM and MZ–I am glad to see that clarification. It wasn’t in your original post or the NPR coverage, which at best showed that the plan excluded “elective abortions,” and not all abortions “except in the cases of rape or incest, or where the life of the woman would be endangered” — because, as I have suggested, there seem to be lots of abortions (disability and physical health) which are neither elective in medical regulatory parlance nor are they rape/incest/lotm. If NRLC had not objected, would HHS have issued this press release, and thus would the policy be subject to this additional limitation that is not contained in the mere “elective abortion” limit? Like on other points, we will surely continue to disagree on that too.

    • M.Z.

      It is unconventional to make a speculative claim and when found to be erroneous to attribute it to being anything other than speculative. Certainly it is within the realm of possibility that policy was changed, but I really don’t see why we would give it credence without just making an assumption of bad faith. NRLC decided to run this up the flag pole and blindsided both PA and HHS instead of seeking guidance from them on the matter and then acting. I think in most places that is considered an act of bad faith.

  • Matt Bowman

    MZ–I am unaware of a mechanism by which a private citizen can require a US govt agency to issue guidance on whether they meant Hyde when they merely said elective (and if so why they didn’t write what they meant).

  • @Matt,

    Exactly. Why don’t the make it explicit so we don’t need to play these guessing games?

    And why don’t Catholics who support this *insist* that it be explicit as a condition for their support, rather than jeer at others?

  • Phillip

    I heard there was only a paltry $160 million dollars to fund torture. So that should be okay.

  • Kurt

    I am glad to see that clarification.

    There was not any lack of clarity. There was once again an attempt by conservatives to spread false information.

    there seem to be lots of abortions (disability and physical health) which are neither elective in medical regulatory parlance nor are they rape/incest/lotm.

    Medical parlance is not the controlling legal authority in this situation. Federal regulation and policy is. NRLC either knows that or is too incompetent to serve in a leadership role in abortion policy questions.

    If NRLC had not objected, would HHS have issued this press release, and thus would the policy be subject to this additional limitation that is not contained in the mere “elective abortion” limit?

    Matt, here you have gone off the deep end. First you simply ignore clear and binding federal policy. Then, discounting that, you suggest that an HHS Press Release DOES have some authoritative standing.

    If this is what you feel you need to do to exit this new embarrassment to NRLC, I’m willing to grant you this exit and move on.

  • Do you believe the statement is a good thing?
    Do you believe the statement would have been issued but for the NRLC’s complaints?

    I would not assert that the Obama Administration want to promote abortion. But I do think that pressure from pro-choice groups creates an incentive for them to try to avoid making things like bans on funding abortion explicit. Pressure from groups like the NRLC counters that, and forces them to make statements like this one.

    I can understand why the NRLC might not be everyone’s first choice of groups to support. But their efforts in this case made explicit something that may have been ambiguous before. This is a good thing. And they deserve better than what they get here.

    I think the left-leaning Vox Nova commentators recognize this. And they kind of wish the NRLC’s of the world would shut up and let the Administration get away with not making things like this explicit, since it might scare some pro-choice people out of the coalition.

    This is unacceptable.

  • M.Z.

    We are now entering the “denial only proves the conspiracy” phase of this manufactured scandal.

  • Phillip

    The PA plan states it will not cover “elective abortions” what abortions fit the requirements? According to 18 Pa. C.S. § 3204:

    “In determining in accordance with subsection (a) or (b) whether an abortion is necessary, a physician’s best clinical judgment may be exercised in the light of all factors (physical, emotional, psychological, familial and the woman’s age) relevant to the well-being of the woman. No abortion which is sought solely because of the sex of the unborn child shall be deemed a necessary abortion.”

    Why did administration officials not ask that this be changed when the PA plan was approved? Did someone in the govt. just not read it? And if, according to state and Federal officials, Federal law will take priority, will they go back and change it?

    • It’s funny how I see people who say “no regulations to industry” are saying the federal government should step in and put in regulations so doctors don’t have the liberty of state subsidiarity to help them make their own local decisions. Obviously, I don’t have problems with big government making such regulations, but some people have a lot of answering to for their hypocritical actions when it comes to big government regulations against abortion.

  • The bubble feeds on itself, MZ. Forget about “caritas”, the American Catholic blogosphere has a problem with “veritas”.

  • Kevin

    …some people have a lot of answering for their hypocritical actions when it comes to big government regulations against abortion.

    Henry,

    Are you making an argument that abortion is allowable becuase of subsidiarity? Or is that the personally opposed argument? What about the detail that all persons have the basic right to life per Catholic doctrine?

    • Kevin

      Notice I am FOR big government regulations against abortion. However, for those who think “big government regulations” are bad, how can they support the idea of regulations against abortion on a federal level? Subsidiarity without solidarity and morality is useless. That is the problem — heresy is always taking one element of truth and exaggerating it out of proportion to ignore other elements of truth. Those who consistently push subsidiarity as a means of ignoring the positive role of the state have done that; they ignore the balance which is put on subsidiarity. If we follow through with the logic, subsidiarity by itself, without any other element to balance it out, is individualism, since the individual would be the most local and simple unit. However, the Church is against individualism. So you can begin to see how the church is not about subsidiarity alone, but in connection with solidarity, morality, and the common good.

  • Matt Bowman

    Kurt–I’m not sure the press release resolves the issue, but it’s more clear than merely saying that the exclusion is only for elective abortions. The Hyde standard is more restrictive, and if the federal govt chooses to exclude only “elective” abortions, it hasn’t met Hyde as a factual matter. Nothing until this press release and nothing but it, that I’m aware of, says that high risk plans can only pay for non-Hyde abortions. All we had was an exclusion of elective, with nothing defining elective the same as Hyde (and with many sources defining it differently including common regulatory usage).

  • Kurt

    Do you believe the statement is a good thing?
    Do you believe the statement would have been issued but for the NRLC’s complaints?

    The statement addresses a pre-existing fact. It is information, not a policy statement. The suggestion that an HHS Press Release “fixes” something is even more baseless than the claim that clear federal policy does not apply to the High Risk Pool insurance in the first place. NRLC is looking for an exit from a baseless statement they made. Maybe in charity, if they are going to claim there was a problem but it has now been fixed by the “binding authority” of an HHS press release, we should just let them live in the illusions.

    The NRLC is not only not my first choice for a group I would support, I don’t support them at any level. They are not a force for social good.

  • Pingback: An Real-Life Example of Abortion Funding « Vox Nova()

  • Matt Bowman

    Kurt–you said that it is baseless to deny that clear federal policy already, prior to HHS’s press release, prohibits high risk plans under the Patient Protection Act from funding abortions beyond the Hyde exceptions. Can you tell us exactly the law or rule number and language that imposes such a prohibition, clearly or otherwise? I am unaware of any such restriction in PPACA itself. The actual Hyde Amendment doesn’t do it because it explicitly applies only to funds appropriated under the annual Labor HHS appropriations bill, which doesn’t include PPACA funding of high risk plans. Do you mean the code of federal regulations provision implementing Hyde, even though, as we have discussed before, and as a matter of indisputable administrative law, no such regulation can impose a restriction beyond its authorizing statute, so that the regulation, like Hyde, is also necessarily limited to Labor HHS appropriations bill funds? Do you mean the executive order, even though it only claims to impose what PPACA says, and thus (because PPACA contains no language imposing Hyde on high risk plans) the executive order’s operative provisions explicitly only implement the account segregation scheme for abortion coverage in exchange plans not having any application to high risk plans? I don’t think you are referring to the new HHS press release, which you rightly point out is not law, and since your point seems to be that there is law imposing this restriction that preexists the press release. And as we have discussed, the high risk plan language itself, such as in Pa, only excludes “elective” abortions which doesn’t mean and isn’t define anywhere as being the same as Hyde-allowed abortions. So I am curious to know the clear federal law that you believe specifically functions to limit high risk plans to rape, incest, and life of the mother abortions.


  • However, for those who think “big government regulations” are bad, how can they support the idea of regulations against abortion on a federal level?

    Maybe on the basis that they believe that the right to life should be a fundamental part of who we are and must be affirmed at every level of the federal government, and that other objects of government regulation are less so.

    Especially for a pro-life person, is this really that difficult to comprehend?

    The “so-called proponents as small government” argument is tired. But it is especially tired when it it invoked against those wanting the government to restrict abortions by those claiming to share their concerns.

    Also, I suspect many pro-life conservatives are conservative because the conservative movement is the one that at least plays lip service to opposing abortion.

  • MZ just had a top post calling people dishonest for failing to note the HHS statement.

    Now you’re telling me it’s a non-event?

  • Kurt

    Matt,

    you said that it is baseless to deny that clear federal policy already, prior to HHS’s press release, prohibits high risk plans under the Patient Protection Act from funding abortions beyond the Hyde exceptions

    Yep. Absolutely. It is not even a close call, as every independent observber has noted.

    as a matter of indisputable administrative law, no such regulation can impose a restriction beyond its authorizing statute,

    It is the contrary that is indisputable. I am in shock that you would even try to assert what you did. Almost all discretionary spending has authorization far beyond what can be provided by the appropriation. Lacking congressional instruction, the Executive Branch has the right to direct spending as it pleases.

    And, of course, we have had dozens of mid-year and supplimential spending bills before without any objection from NRTL. They are a fraud.

  • Matt Bowman

    Kurt, a “reviewing court shall . . . hold unlawful and set aside agency action, findings, and conclusions found to be . . . in excess of statutory jurisdiction, authority, or limitations, or short of statutory right.” 5 U.S.C. 706(2)(C). Hyde says no funds in the annual Labor HHS appropriations bill can go for abortion beyond its exceptions. The Hyde-implementing CFR regulation can’t impose a limit on another law, because the regulation only has authority over the bills that Hyde applies to. Maybe some other law exists authorizing (but not mandating) HHS to impose Hyde on high risk plans, and maybe HHS has used that authority to pass a regulation that actually imposes Hyde on high risk plans. Please quote and cite that authorizing and implementing law or regulation. Which ones specifically are you talking about? If you say it’s baseless to deny their existence, just quote them for us. It should be easy.

  • Kurt

    Matt,

    Let me put this in simple terms. What happens in Pennsylvania when claims within the statutory authority but in excess of $160 million come forward?

  • Matt Bowman

    Kurt, either there is a federal policy prohibiting HHS from using federal funds for abortion in high risk plans even if they wanted to, or there is a federal policy allowing HHS to pay for or not pay for abortions in high risk plans and then an additional policy by which HHS has actually decided to prohibit using federal funds for abortion in high risk plans. Either way, some policy is written somewhere. You say it’s baseless to deny it. So show us the writing.

  • Kurt

    Matt,

    So just to understand the parameters, you are backing down from your former claim that no regulation can impose a restriction on abortion funding in the High Risk Pools Insurance and now you are simply asking for the citation of that controlling regulation?

  • Matt Bowman

    I am in the most important sense “simply” asking for the citation of that controlling regulation, because this started with you asserting that it is baseless to deny that a clear, controlling regulation exists somewhere. I just want to know what regulation you are talking about. I listed several possibilities, but my list may not have been comprehensive.

    My “former claim” was intended to be less universal than your description; I said that the actual, 25 year old Hyde-Amendment-implementing regulation in the CFR cannot impose a restriction on the new High Risk Pools Insurance, because that would exceed the regulation’s own claim that its statutory authority derives from the Hyde Amendment statute which explicitly contains a self-limitation to Labor HHS apprropriations, and therefore it would violate the rule that an administrative regulation can’t exceed its statutory authority, as stated in 5 USC 706 (for example).

    Whether some *other* obstacle exists such that “no regulation” (and not just the specific Hyde CFR) can impose a restriction on abortion funding in high risk pools, is an issue difficult to assess since you still have not quoted the regulation that you claim “clearly” bans non-Hyde-allowed abortion payments in the High Risk pools. But supposing no obstacle exists to HHS imposing such a restriction–where is the restriction?

  • Kurt

    The Department of HHS is subject to the Hyde Act. From 1980-2009, the NRTLC and the USCCB never suggested that mid-year and supplimental appropritions were exempt from the Hyde restrictions in the regular appropriations bill. In fact, the original Hyde Act was on a supplimental appropriation bill and immediately applied to the previously appropriated funds.

    In 2010, Health Care opponents invented for the first time the theory that these funds were unrestricted even when co-mingled with restricted funds and in control of HHS.

    And even this baseless theory is further discounted by the fact in less than 3 months (before most of these programs are even up and running) they will even more clearly be made subject to the Hyde Amendment in the new FY.

  • Matt Bowman

    All I want is you to quote a law or regulation, to support your claim that it is baseless to deny that such a regulation restricting high risk pool funds exist. I don’t see a citation in your last comment. Maybe you are intending to cite “the Hyde Act” itself. Are you claiming that the Hyde Amendment, Section 507, Public Law 111-117, 2009 HR 3288, of the “Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010,” which Amendment section explicitly only applies to “funds appropriated in this Act,” actually also applies to high risk pool funds appropriated in PPACA? Is this Section 507 the law you are referring to when you say that there is a law out there that clearly prohibits PPACA high risk pool funds from being spent on abortion?

  • Kurt

    I agree with the position the USCCB and NRLC took from 1980 until 2009 that when HHS takes control of supplimental funding after the annual appropriation act, the restrictions in the annual appropriation act apply to all funds under their control.

    In fact, I can’t find anyone suggesting anything to contrary prior to this year and who is not an opponent of health care. This claim that these funds could be used for abortion is something invented this year by opponents of health care.

  • Kurt

    A LETTER FROM REPRESENTATIVE KATHY DAHLKEMPER

    Dear Kurt,

    When I voted for health-care back in March, I did so with the complete confidence and understanding that no federal funds will be used for elective abortions under the new health-care law. Let me repeat: No federal funds will be used for elective abortions under this new health-care law.

    That is unequivocal. There is no wiggle-room here. Not a dime of federal tax dollars can be used for elective abortions under this new health-care law in Pennsylvania or any state.

    In a statement I released Thursday, I called on Secretary Sebelius and the Department of Health and Human Services to make absolutely clear to the states that any federally funded insurance plan or program will not include elective abortion whatsoever. HHS must also make it perfectly clear that violating federal law regarding abortion funding will have consequences. Like I said, this ban is unequivocal regarding the use of federal funds for elective abortions. If a state does not uphold that ban in a federally-funded health care plan, that state should not be a recipient of federal funds for that program.”

    In a statement released by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department, this point is reaffirmed in clear and concise language:

    “Pennsylvania will – and has always intended to – comply with the federal ban on abortion funding in the coverage provided through our federally funded high risk pool. This program will provide much-needed assistance for the sickest of the sick. The likelihood that any of those covered will seek abortion services is remote, but if they do need such services, they will have to pay for them out their own pocket.

    “Our pending contract with Health and Human Services (HHS) makes it crystal clear that we will ‘operate the Program in compliance with federal law and the forthcoming final federal regulations.’ This has always meant that the existing federal ban on abortion funding would be followed, with the restrictions that permit abortion services in the instance of rape, incest or endangering the mother.

    “Pennsylvania’s position is not a statement about the broader abortion debate. It simply recognizes that health care reform, particularly extending health coverage to those with preexisting conditions, is too important a priority to be hijacked by those who seek to turn common-sense health reforms into a rancorous debate about whether the federal ban on abortion funding is too broad or too narrow. These efforts failed to derail health reform this spring and they will fail to stop much-needed coverage for thousands of Pennsylvanians now.”

    Despite all the charges, attacks and misleading statements by misguided pro-life advocates and even elected Republican officials who know the truth, absolutely nothing has happened since that health-care vote and since the president signed an Executive Order on March 24th that clearly states that under the Affordable Health Care for America Act: “Federal funds are not used for abortion services (except in cases of rape or incest, or when the life of the woman would be endangered), consistent with a longstanding Federal statutory restriction that is commonly known as the Hyde Amendment.”

    As you all know, I am passionately pro-life. I speak from personal experience about the sanctity of human life and the need to protect those who can’t protect themselves.

    I’m growing weary – and sick and tired frankly – of listening and reading about how my health-care vote somehow violated my pro-life principles and credentials. There is simply no excuse or justification for trashing my record and my reputation and my good name to score political points in this election. In so many ways, it’s obscene.

    I urge you to read an article from Catholics United. An excerpt is below:

    “Which part of “love thy neighbor” is so hard to understand? That’s what Western Pennsylvania’s faith community is asking in light of ongoing vicious attacks on Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper. The attackers – including the Republican Party, Family Research Council, and other so-called pro-life groups – are spreading misinformation about abortion funding in the health care bill in order to convince people of faith that Rep. Dahlkemper betrayed them by voting for reform.”

    Please go the link below and read the articles and blogs on all the misinformation and attacks by the far right on my health-care reform vote and other abortion-funding myths. Tell our friends to tell their friends and read the truth.

    http://www.catholics-united.org/dahlkemper-support-letter

    It’s simply hard to fathom how the people and organizations I could usually rely on as friends and allies in the pro-life cause have decided to go down this sad and divisive road of misinformation, name-calling and utter untruths. At a moment when we should be united by our shared beliefs and principles, I am forced to aggressively and forcefully defend myself against these complete falsehoods.

    But believe me, I do not hesitate for a moment to do so. I will not allow those who shout the loudest and spread the wildest myths to overshadow the truth. Because the real truth remains the guardian of this entire contrived controversy:

    No federal funds will be used for elective abortions under this new health-care law.

    I ask you to go to the link below and read and share more information on these abortion funding myths. Remember, we have the truth and the facts on our side.

    http://blog.faithinpubliclife.org/2010/07/the_latest_abortion_funding_my.html

    Please check out PolitiFact.com for the truth and real facts. Here is the link:

    http://politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2010/jul/16/national-right-life-committee/abortions-pennsylvania-paid-federal-dollars-not-so/

    Sincerely,

    Kathy Dahlkemper

  • Matt Bowman

    Is that a yes?

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