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Land-endorsed statement urges new start

WASHINGTON (BP)–Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land has joined more than 30 other Christian and conservative leaders in endorsing a statement that supports the sanctity of all human life in health-care reform.

The statement by a coalition known as the Freedom Federation calls for Congress and the White House “to start over with a truly nonpartisan approach” in its effort to improve health care in the United States. The one-page document was released Sept. 10, the day after President Obama urged Congress to pass legislation according to a plan he outlined to a joint session of the Senate and House of Representatives and a nationwide television audience.

The signers — including Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), and representatives from such organizations as the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Family Research Council Action, Concerned Women for America and Liberty Counsel — oppose abortion funding and health-care rationing, concerns about legislative proposals that have been raised frequently by pro-life advocates.

“Abortion is not healthcare,” says the statement, which may be accessed online at www.freedomfederation.org. “Life, no matter how young, is not expendable and, no matter how ill or aged, is not to be weighed on a cost-benefit scale.”

The statement also says the signers “support conscience laws protecting hospitals and healthcare providers from coerced participation in abortion. We oppose government policies pressuring people to forgo or limit treatment because of age or illness. We oppose rationed healthcare due to age, illness or based on a government agency’s determination of ‘quality’ or ‘value’ of life.”

In his Sept. 9 speech, Obama said, under his plan, “no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.”

The proposal approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, however, explicitly authorizes funds for elective abortions. Three committees in the House and one in the Senate rejected efforts to exclude abortion funding from health-care legislation.

Most pro-lifers responded to Obama’s promise with skepticism. Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, seemed to indicate in a Sept. 13 interview the president would only sign a bill that clearly bars federal funds for abortion. At least some of the skeptical pro-lifers appeared to adopt a wait-and-see attitude, at best, regarding the latest assurance.

In the Freedom Federation statement, the signers say they believe health-care reform should produce lower costs, greater quality of care and more choices “without moving private health decisions from the doctor’s office to Washington bureaucrats.” They also call for the ability of people to take their health insurance with them when they change jobs, “legal reform to stop frivolous lawsuits” and “coverage of pre-existing conditions.”

The statement opposes “federalization of the healthcare industry that would create a maze of bureaucracy which will impede and delay critical care and decrease the quality of healthcare.” The signers also indicate they “oppose a single-payer, government-run insurance program or the so-called public option.”

In his speech, Obama continued to promote a public, or government-run, option, saying the White House believes less than five percent of Americans would enroll in such a plan.

In a nine-page analysis released in early August, the ERLC not only said the leading House bill would authorize abortion funding but said the legislation “will lead to diminished health care for most Americans, less choice, higher taxes and unprecedented government intrusion into every level and aspect of society, from business, to education, to marriage, to individual liberty.”

The ELRC analysis is available online at www.erlc.com.

In addition to Land, other signers of the Freedom Federation statement are Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel; Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council Action; Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America; Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; Gary Bauer, president of American Values; Phyllis Schlafly, president of Eagle Forum; Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association, and Tim Clinton, president of the American Association of Christian Counselors.

On the same day as the president’s address to Congress, Land and other radio talk show hosts presented to members of the Senate and House a petition signed by more than 1.3 million Americans opposed to the Democrats’ health-care legislation.
Compiled by Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.

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