The Ellsworth Abortion Amendment Is a Fraud

President Barack Obama is about to move one step closer to delivering on a big campaign promise:  abortion coverage in his health plan.

Faced with growing opposition to abortion funding in the pending health care measure, Democrat House Rules Chairwoman Louise Slaughter may insert into the bill language from an amendment that would supposedly, but would not, cure the problem.  The amendment is authored by Representative Brad Ellsworth, Democrat from Indiana and a member of the House Pro-Life Caucus, and is purported to prevent federal funds to be used for abortion.

But under the Ellsworth amendment, Americans will still be forced to pay for other people’s elective abortions.  It’s like a shell game — all it does is require the public option to contract with private businesses to shuffle the money. The government will still take your money through a mandatory premium and, under the Ellsworth plan, will give it to a private contractor to pay the abortionist’s bill. Medicare also uses private contractors to process claims, but no one says Medicare spends “private” funds. So too, the Ellsworth plan would still spend government funds for abortion.

The Catholic Bishops yesterday called it a “money-laundering system” for abortion funding.  Strong words from the Catholic Church, the largest swing vote in the country and one of the largest providers of health care in the United States.  The Catholic Church could be the Democrats’ number one ally on health care reform, and it’s stunning to see their willingness to throw away this support because of their allegiance to the abortion lobby.

Ellsworth’s staff defends his amendment as a legitimate curb on abortion funding by citing the Congressional Research Service (CRS). But look closely at the language of the CRS — it says the amendment “would seem to” broaden the bill language to restrict funding.  

But isn’t that what happens in a shell game?  Things are not as they seem.  

CRS also confirmed that all of the funds spent by the “public plan” are federal funds as opposed to private funds. So it doesn’t matter what the funds are labeled or who is hired to write the checks.  The government will take your money through a mandatory premium and will use the money to pay for elective abortions.  This is federal funding of abortion, plain and simple.  

There is a way to cure the abortion problem in the bill.  What is lacking is the will to do so on the part of the Democratic leadership. The abortion language that they refuse to remove is on page 110:  “Nothing in this Act shall be construed” to prevent the public health option from covering “services described in paragraph (4)(A).”  The “services” that must be covered in (4)(A) are “abortions for which…federal funds” under HHS are “not permitted.”  That is, elective abortions.  This language trumps Ellsworth’s language because it dictates how the bill must be construed.

Democrat Congressman Bart Stupak of Michigan has an amendment that would remove this section, but Rules Chairwoman Slaughter will not allow it.  The only amendment she may allow is the Ellsworth amendment.  Slaughter is an abortion-rights absolutist; her acceptance of the Ellsworth amendment is more evidence that the amendment is a fraud.

Planned Parenthood is also pleased with the bill.  In their latest message to supporters they congratulate themselves for keeping abortion funding restrictions out of the bill.

Forcing taxpayers for the first time to pay for other people’s elective abortions under the guise of health care is perhaps the most obvious problem from a pro-life perspective, but it is by no means the only one.  The Pelosi bill also includes dangerous rationing that will jeopardize seniors and Americans who are in need of the most care.  And it lacks conscience protection for health care professionals, which presents the prospect of Americans being put in the untenable position of choosing between what their consciences dictate and what the new federal Obamacare law will demand.

But this weekend, the focus will be on abortion funding, and the Ellsworth amendment will be trumpeted as a winning compromise.  Winning it might be — compromise it is not.  It is a fraud.

The bottom line is that President Obama sees elective abortion as “essential” health care that should be paid for by the government.  This was his promise to Planned Parenthood
on the campaign trail, and the bill House members will vote on this weekend is drafted to deliver.