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"Under our [health care reform] plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions." - President Obama, addressing a joint session of Congress on September 9, 2009. (link)
Obama spent most of this year repeating the above words, and he characterized anybody who said otherwise, namely Republicans, as divisive peddlers of "outrageous myths."
But, in what has become an all too familiar game of misdirection, the peddler of myths was Obama himself. The Stupak Amendment proved the dishonesty of Obama's previous words. Prior to that amendment to the House health care bill, health care subsidies (federal funds) would have been used to fund private health care plans that cover abortions. With the adoption of the Stupak Amendment, no federal funds would be used to fund abortions in any health care plan. The Stupak Amendment was adopted because that was the only way the Democrats could pass the health care bill in the House of Representatives. Without it, they were 10 votes short.
Once abortions were REALLY not covered under ObamaCare (as opposed to Obama and other Democrats only pretending they weren't covered), the debate moved to the Senate, and a firestorm erupted in the Democratic party between the pro-choice liberal wing and the pro-life moderate/conservative wing. The pro-choicers argue that the Stupak Amendment is a sea change on abortion rights, restricting federal funds that were available under the previous Hyde Amendment. And the pro-choicers seem to be right. It is a sea change. The Hyde Amendment forbids use of federal taxpayer dollars to fund Medicaid abortions except in cases of rape, incest or threat to the mother’s life, but it also allows states to use their own Medicaid money (90% of which comes from federal funds) to fund other abortions, which about 17 states currently do. The Stupak Amendment negates that federal funding, as I understand it. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
The Dems find themselves between a rock and a hard place. If the pro-life wing prevails, about 40 Democrats say they won't support the health care plan. If the pro-choice wing prevails, they lose support from the pro-lifers. In either case, the Democratic filibuster-proof majority evaporates, and with almost all Republicans against ObamaCare, the current health care reform bills could die over the abortion issue split.
In light of this dilemma, Obama seems to support the pro-choice position, even though he's making split-the-baby (no unfortunate pun intended) comments on the issue. Here's Obama saying, um, something, to ABC's Jake Tapper today:
You know, I laid out a very simple principle, which is this is a health care bill, not an abortion bill. And we're not looking to change what is the principle that has been in place for a very long time, which is federal dollars are not used to subsidize abortions.
And I want to make sure that the provision that emerges meets that test -- that we are not in some way sneaking in funding for abortions, but, on the other hand, that we're not restricting women's insurance choices, because one of the pledges I made in that same speech was to say that if you're happy and satisfied with the insurance that you have, that it's not going to change.
There. Hope that clears things up. According to Obama, we're not going to have federal funding for abortions. Except when we do. I think. Or not.