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Leaders’ goal: make health care pro-life

WASHINGTON (BP)–Richard Land and more than 50 other pro-life leaders have told the members of the House of Representatives they will work to restore pro-life policies undermined by the new health-care law and the subsequent executive order from President Obama.

Meanwhile, a pro-life congressman has introduced legislation to amend the health-care measure to bar money for abortions in any program funded through the new law.

In a letter to the House, Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and his fellow pro-lifers pointed to what they described as the “anti-life policies” in the legislation, but they gave most of their attention to the shortcomings they saw in the executive order.

The order fails to apply the principles of the Hyde Amendment to the health-care law, they said. The Hyde Amendment prohibits Medicaid and other funds through the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from paying for most abortions.

In pointing to the inadequacies of Obama’s executive order, the pro-life advocates said:

— It directs the HHS secretary to issue regulations that will establish “accounting schemes so that taxpayer subsidies may pay for insurance coverage that includes abortion” and “implement the abortion surcharge that will require many Americans to pay at least $1 per month into an abortion slush fund to directly pay for elective abortions;”

— It fails to reverse measures in the law that enable the federal government to administer insurance plans for its employees that fund abortion;

— It does not invalidate language that would mandate abortion coverage in all plans if HHS defines the procedure “as a preventive service;”

— It does not include conscience protections for pro-life, health-care workers.

“Pro-life organizations are working together to ensure that the anti-life policies included in the Act and reiterated by the Executive Order are removed and that the Hyde amendment principles are restored,” the April 19 letter said. “We will not cease in our pursuit to respectfully and deliberately advance the right to life and protect the vulnerable unborn.”

Rep. Joseph Pitts, R.-Pa., introduced the Protect Life Act, H.R. 5111, April 22. When introduced, the bill had 50 co-sponsors, including seven Democrats.

The measure would prohibit federal funds for abortion or abortion coverage under the health-care law, protect private insurance companies from being required to cover abortion and establish conscience protections for health-care workers.

“The new health care law is riddled with loopholes that allow taxpayer subsidies for coverage that includes abortion,” Pitts said in a written statement.

He is grateful to have bipartisan support for his measure, Pitts said.

“I never want protecting life to be a partisan issue,” he said.

The Democrats co-sponsoring Pitts’ bill are Reps. Travis Childers of Mississippi, Lincoln Davis of Tennessee, Tim Holden of Pennsylvania, Dan Lipinski of Illinois, Jim Marshall of Georgia, Mike McIntyre of North Carolina and Gene Taylor of Mississippi.

Childers and Davis are members of Southern Baptist churches.

In addition to Land, others signing onto the letter to the House included David Bereit, national director of 40 Days for Life; Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List; Melinda Delahoyde, president of Care Net; Day Gardner, president of the National Black Pro-life Union; Tom Minnery, senior vice president of Focus on the Family; Mathew Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel; David Stevens, chief executive office of the Christian Medical Association; J.C. Willke, president of International Right to Life Federation, and Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life.
Compiled by Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.

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