Political Advocacy Tracker is a roundup of what Christian activist organizations have been talking about the past week.
Keystone State Debate
The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) reported that the federal government's new high-risk health insurance program "will cover any abortion that is legal in Pennsylvania." Several political activist groups responded to the report by calling President Obama a "liar" because he and pro-life Democrats promised abortion would not be funded under the law.
"This is just the first proof of the phoniness of President Obama's assurances that federal funds would not subsidize abortion—but it will not be the last," said Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the NRLC.
Other groups also reported on the new plan. Catherine Snow of Citizenlink said "the Obama Administration is now quietly subsidizing nearly all forms of abortions in Pennsylvania, according to a recently uncovered plan—referred to as the 'Rendell-Sebelius plan'—designed to circumvent public scrutiny and Obama's executive order."
"Never have we so regretted being right on an issue," said Family Research Council (FRC) senior vice-president Tom McClusky. "For our efforts to remove the [health care] bill's abortion funding, we were called 'deceivers' by President Obama and 'liars' by his allies. Now we know who the true deceivers and liars really are." McClusky called on the President to apologize and for the healthcare bill to be repealed.
But, does the Pennsylvania program actually fund abortion? Faith in Public Life has issued its fact-check of the plan. The conclusion: abortion will not be funded as part of the program.
"Rather than checking the facts, National Right to Life Committee, Family Research Council and John Boehner chose to spread misinformation on the sensitive topic of abortion … Once again we see the issue of abortion used as a political weapon serving partisan ends," said Dan Nejfelt of Faith in Public Life.
Nejfelt said the plan explicitly excluded abortion. In the only section to address abortion, the plan stated: "Elective abortions are not covered."
The NRLC said this statement was "a red herring" because of the word "elective." Under Pennsylvania law cited in the plan, a woman may have an abortion if her doctor agrees that abortion is needed after taking into account "all factors (physical, emotional, psychological, familial and the woman's age) relevant to the well-being of the woman." The only criterion that may not be considered is sex selection.
"The Pennsylvania proposal conspicuously lacks language that would prevent funding of abortions performed as a method of birth control or for any other reason, except sex selection—and the Obama Administration has now approved this,"said Johnson.
Since the NRLC report, both the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the state of Pennsylvania reiterated their policies on abortion.
In an interview with National Public Radio, Pennsylvania Department of Insurance's Rosanne Placey said, "Very simply, federal law controls. We know that," she said. "We absolutely do not cover elective abortions."
HHS spokeswoman Jenny Backus said in a statement that "abortions will not be covered in the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance (PCIP) except in cases of rape or incest, or where the life of the woman would be endangered. Our policy is the same for both state and federally-run PCIP programs."
Odds and Ends
—Many groups objected to the recent decision by a federal judge finding the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. Two comments went beyond a criticism of the ruling. Mathew D. Staver, founder of the Liberty Counsel, said the federal government "sabotaged" DOMA by stating the law was passed to maintain the status quo, not protect children. "President Obama has been actively promoting an agenda to undermine the nation's marriage laws," said Staver. "President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder must defend the nation's marriage laws. The Obama administration must defend DOMA, not sabotage the law." Also, Chuck Colson called on Christians to "get busy, work harder, and take the long view—to restore, pray God, sanity to our culture." He also pointed out his unusual connection to Judge Joseph Tauro: "I am especially saddened personally because Joe Tauro is a long-time friend whose appointment as a federal judge I urged President Nixon to make. It's for me a very painful irony."