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Facts are stubborn things

August 20, 2009
Of all the maddening things to me that politicians these days do, speaking against the facts ranks the highest.
President Obama said on a conference call yesterday that it was “untrue,” a “fabrication,” that legislation backed by the White House would result in “government funding of abortion.”Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), responds:

Emboldened by the recently demonstrated superficiality of some organs of the news media, President Obama today brazenly misrepresented the abortion-related component of the health care legislation that his congressional allies and staff have crafted. As amended by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on July 30 (the Capps-Waxman Amendment), the bill backed by the White House (H.R. 3200) explicitly authorizes the government plan to cover all elective abortions. Obama apparently seeks to hide behind a technical distinction between tax funds and government-collected premiums. But these are merely two types of public funds, collected and spent by government agencies. The Obama-backed legislation makes it explicitly clear that no citizen would be allowed to enroll in the government plan unless he or she is willing to give the federal agency an extra amount calculated to cover the cost of all elective abortions — this would not be optional. The abortionists would bill the federal government and would be paid by the federal government. These are public funds, and this is government funding of abortion.

In 2007 Obama explicitly pledged to Planned Parenthood that the public plan will cover abortions (see the video clip here). Some journalists have reported that Obama “backed off” of this commitment in an interview with Katie Couric of CBS News, broadcast July 21, but Obama actually carefully avoided stating his intentions — instead, he simply made an artful observation that “we also have a tradition of, in this town, historically, of not financing abortions as part of government funded health care.”  It is true that there is such a tradition — which Obama has always opposed, and which the Obama-backed bill would shatter.

On August 13, NRLC released a detailed memo explaining the provisions of the pending bills that would affect abortion policy, with citations to primary sources. Many of the “factcheck” articles that have appeared in the news media in recent weeks reflect, at best, unsophisticated understandings of the provisions they purport to be explaining, and also give evidence of a weak understanding of Obama’s history on the policy issues involved.

Curse them facts:  they are stubborn things.

HT:  Between Two Worlds

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