Several pro-life groups responded to the Senate’s passage of landmark health care
reform legislation Thursday morning with calls for more restrictive abortion language in the final measure.
President Obama called the vote “historic” and said it brings the nation “toward the end of nearly a century-long struggle to reform America’s health care system.”
If the reforms pass, the legislation will be “the most important
piece of social legislation since the Social Security act passed in the
1930s and the most important reform of our health care system since
Medicare passed in the 1960s,” President Obama said.
But pro-life groups including the Family Research Council, Traditional Values Coalition,
Susan B. Anthony List and the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ)
the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that passed in a 60-39 party-line vote, saying it does not do
enough to prevent government funding for abortion.
“As efforts begin to
work out the differences between the Senate and House bills, we encourage
pro-life members of the U.S. House … to once again stand-up and protect the
sanctity of human life,” said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ. “The
final bill must include real protections for the unborn. And it must offer the
American people a plan that is sensible and affordable.”
changes, Congress should reject this government-run, pro-abortion effort,” he
added. “It’s time to stop the political deal-making and posturing and listen to
the American people.”
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said most Americans oppose federal funding for abortion. He pointed to a recent Quinnipiac poll that found 72 percent of respondents favor Democratic Rep. Bart
Stupak’s amendment prohibiting abortion funding in the House bill.
“House and Senate conferees would do well to heed that warning
when they come together to iron out their differences with the final bill, else
this bill could collapse because of it,” Perkins said.
Unlike the House bill, the
Senate measure allows states to opt out of providing abortion coverage. But some pro-life advocates say taxpayers in states that opt-out would still be paying for
abortions in states that allow abortion coverage.
Although Stupak has vowed to oppose a
House-Senate compromise that allows abortion funding, other pro-life
Democrats have indicated support for the Senate abortion language, Time
Negotiations between the House and Senate are to begin in
January. Observers say a compromise is unlikely before February.
If the health reform legislation is signed into law without substantial revisions, attorney Mathew D. Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, said his organization
may file a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the bill.
In addition to allowing abortion funding, he says the health reform
legislation exceeds Congress’ authority by requiring that all Americans own
health insurance as part of a proposed national health insurance program
overseen by the government but offered through private insurers. The program
would also prevent insurance companies from dropping patients who get sick.
“We believe it’s unconstitutional,” Staver said. “It exceeds Congress’
authority to pass health care that requires everyone to carry insurance
coverage and that penalizes employers that do not provide the level of coverage
that the bill requires.”
He said Congress has the authority to regulate interstate commerce, but he
believes the health reform legislation goes beyond that scope. “Here they’re
trying to regulate every individual, including employers, which do not have any
interstate commerce component, and that’s beyond Congress’ power to regulate,”
Pro-life leaders who oppose the health reform measure
are also looking to the 2010 mid-term elections, when they hope to rally voters to
unseat members of Congress who support abortion funding in the legislation.