In a remarkably feckless article, “Truth-telling and Responsibility In Health Care” Jim Wallis tries to convince us that all the concern over health care and abortion is much ado about nothing.
President Obama said, “I think we also have a tradition of, in this town, historically, of not financing abortions as part of government-funded health care. Rather than wade into that issue at this point, I think that it’s appropriate for us to figure out how to just deliver on the cost savings, and not get distracted by the abortion debate at this station.” There is growing agreement from both pro-life and pro-choice that health-care reform should not include funding for abortion, but should be abortion-neutral. We will continue monitoring the ongoing legislative process to maintain that principle.
To suggest that there is growing agreement among pro-choice Democrats, not to mention the abortion lobby, that health care reform should be abortion-neutral is nothing short of ignorant. As Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee has reported:
[T]he White House is backing a bill (as yet unnumbered) sponsored by Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Ma.), which was approved on July 15 by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee on a 13-10 party line vote. The committee voted down all pro-life amendments, including an amendment offered by pro-life Senator Tom Coburn (R-Ok.) to prevent health care providers from being penalized for refusing to participate in providing abortions.
Maybe Wallis doesn’t count Senator Kennedy among those pro-choice Democrats who believe health-care should be abortion neutral. Or all those Senate Democrats on the HELP Committee who voted down the pro-life amendments. Or the folks in the “White House” who back the Kennedy bill (not that President Obama has anything to do with that). In the delusional world of Jim Wallis this is what counts as a “growing agreement.”
Meanwhile, over in the House, Johnson reports
The White House is behind H.R. 3200, which has been approved by three different committees. All three committees voted down NRLC-backed amendments to prevent the bills from mandating coverage of abortions and to prevent federal subsidies for abortions, as only a few Democrats joined the minority Republican members in support of the amendments.
We need some truth-telling and responsibility in the health care debate alright. It might start with Jim Wallis and the court theologians over at Sojourners.