Where the Health Care Debate Lies
Editor's note: Today we're proud to launch God Politics, a weekly roundup of what evangelical political groups on all sides of the political spectrum are talking about. God Politics is a joint project of Christianity Today and the new Tracking American Evangelical Politics project at Southern Illinois University. After you read our initial installment, we'd love to hear from you. Do you find this helpful and informative? What would you like to read more of? Less of? Are there groups we should be paying closer attention to? Let us know in the comments section below.
The Big Story: Who's lying about Obama's health care plan?
Rep. Joe Wilson's (R-S.C.) "You lie!" outburst upstaged President Obama's health care speech last week.
Wilson's comment—whether true or not—was not made in "the appropriate venue," according to BreakPoint's Billy Atwell. But evangelical political groups found plenty of other venues to correct what they saw as misstatements or lies from Obama's health care speech.
In the aftermath of Obama's speech, evangelicals' main question is whether health care reform will result in federal funds for abortion.
In his speech, Obama said, "Under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place."
But many groups say Obama is mistaken, perhaps even lying.
"The health care bills will fund abortion unless it is explicitly excluded," said Family Research Council president Tony Perkins. "Never has the old adage, 'the devil is in the details,' had more meaning."
There were other, similar rebuttals from evangelical groups to Obama's plan:
- The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission's Tom Strode said that President Obama's "speech did little to allay the concerns of most critics, especially regarding federal funding of abortion." A review of H.R. 3200 by ERLC concludes that the health care legislation will ultimately lead judges to categorize abortion as an essential service and fund it.
- The American Center for Law and Justice said the health care bills moving through Congress will fund abortion and lead to increased support for Planned Parenthood.
- Center for a Just Society president Ken Connor pointed to Obama's voting record as evidence that, barring an explicit prohibition against it, "the American people can be fairly certain that any form of Obamacare will use their tax dollars to fund elective abortions nationwide."
- Concerned Women for America encouraged its members to contact Congress to stop "the Abortion Mandate." "Make no mistake about it; abortion will be funded by the government through the new health care plan," CWA president Wendy Wright said. "Planned Parenthood and the abortion lobby … have been waiting for the day when the government will fund abortion because it will be 'mandatory.'"
- Focus on the Family Action encouraged people to contact Congress. "Until there is definitive language in the health-care bill that excludes abortion funding, it doesn't matter what the White House says," Ashley Horne, federal policy analyst for Focus on the Family Action said.
Sojourners came down on the other side of the evangelical debate and publicly applauded Obama's message. Prior to the speech, Sojourners had tentatively trusted that the White House would not fund abortions with health care reform. Obama's speech gave Sojourners further reassurance, Sojourners founder Jim Wallis said. Obama "made the commitments that a broad coalition in the faith community had asked for—reform as a moral issue, affordable coverage for all, and no federal funding of abortion," said Wallis.