Press Room

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – ^U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK), a practicing physician who has delivered more than 4,000 babies, today released the following statement on the abortion compromise language in Majority Leader Reid’s manager’s amendment to the health care bill.

“This reprehensible and deceptive agreement is a historic and radical shift in policy that will require taxpayers to pay for abortion. The American people will be outraged when they realize this so-called compromise is a farce. I can’t imagine there is a single pro-life taxpayer in Nebraska, or any other state, who would agree to pay to end the lives of the unborn for a never-ending Medicaid earmark or tax breaks for insurance companies. Unfortunately, Senators Reid and Nelson disagree,”^ Dr. Coburn said.

“The fact that the most ardent pro-choice Senators support this agreement while pro-life groups, such as the National Right to Life Committee, oppose it should send a chilling signal to taxpayers in Nebraska and across America. Majority Leader Reid wants to rush this phony agreement through the Senate precisely because he does not want the American people to have time to understand its implications. Yet, in spite of these efforts to mislead the public, the American people will grasp and understand this decision and they will hold accountable anyone who defends sacrificing the unborn on the altar of political expediency,” Dr. Coburn said.

“Senators Reid, Nelson and others are using Enron-style accounting gimmicks to justify this radical shift in policy. Their claim that federal dollars will be separated from private dollars paid by premiums is a farce and they know it. In reality, the dollars will be fungible and mixed just as Social Security ‘trust fund’ dollars are used to finance other areas of government,” Dr. Coburn said. “The fact is this agreement, which was allegedly reached after weeks of gut-wrenching negotiations, is an elaborate charade. This new language is identical to, or worse than, the underlying abortion language in the Reid bill. Senators Reid, Nelson and others will have great difficulty convincing taxpayers that they were working to accomplish something other than carving out special favors for particular states.”

Dr. Coburn released the following fact sheet on the agreement:

Sen. Reid’s Manager’s Amendment Solidifies Requirements that Federal Funds Pay for Abortions

• The Manager’s Amendment introduced by Sen. Reid does not in any way resolve the concerns previously articulated by Sen. Nelson, Rep. Stupak, and pro-life Americans have raised regarding the federal funding of abortions. In fact, the “compromise” language included in the manager’s amendment would be even worse than the so-called “compromise” put forward by Sen. Casey earlier this week. This abortion language ensures that—for the first time—federal funds will be used to pay for elective abortions.

• The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, National Right to Life Committee, Americans United for Life, Family Research Council, and a myriad of other pro-life groups are opposed to this language, and with its inclusion they will officially oppose the passage of this health care legislation.

• The manager’s amendment is nothing more than elaborate structure to circumvent and violate the clear intent of the Hyde, Stupak, Weldon and Nelson amendments: that no federal funds will support health plans that include elective abortions.

There is no prohibition on abortion coverage in federally-subsidized health care exchanges

• Unlike the language in the original Nelson/Hatch amendment, or the Stupak amendment in the House, the manager’s amendment does not prevent federal funds from paying for abortion in the federally-subsidized health care exchanges.

The state “opt-out” still requires each state’s tax dollars to pay for elective abortions

• A state may prohibit abortion coverage in its exchange, but the underlying bill already allowed a state to do so. This provision does nothing to prevent one state’s tax dollars from paying for abortions in other states. States can opt-out of providing insurance coverage of abortions, but cannot opt-out of paying for abortions. The manager’s amendment ensures that Nebraska taxpayers will be paying for abortions in California.

The new “public option” managed by the Office of Personnel and Management (OPM) will cover abortions

• Each state through OPM can provide two multi-state plans and only one of them will exclude abortions. OPM’s current health care program—the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) does not include any plans that cover elective abortion. For the first time, a federally funded and managed health care plan will cover elective abortions.

The manager’s amendment includes the reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, without Hyde Amendment language to prevent federal funding of abortions

• Last Congress, the Senate passed a reauthorization of Indian Health Service (IHS) and included pro-life protections—supported by Sen. Nelson—to ensure that no federal IHS funds can be used to pay for abortions. This amendment fails to codify restrictions to prevent federal funding of abortions within Indian health.

The manager’s amendment rejects other “compromise” proposals on abortion

• Other “compromise” proposals put forward would have codified the House-approved “Weldon Amendment” which prohibits government bodies from discriminating against health care providers. These compromises also included an “individual” opt-out from abortion coverage, which the manager’s amendment does not. The manager’s amendment rejects even the most broadly accepted agreements on this issue.

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