C. Everett Koop's Letter Shuts Down Reid's Office
An unstamped letter from former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop caused a security scare when Capitol Police shut down Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's for 45 minutes office yesterday.
Koop's letter, addressed to Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, protested federal funding of abortion in health care legislation.
"More specifically, I am troubled about the possibility of federal dollars being used to pay for elective abortions and Americans being forced to subsidize them," Koop wrote. "I firmly believe that strong protections must be included in this legislation so that health care providers are not forced to participate in abortions against their will."
Roll Call reports that the letter was stampless with "C. Everett Koop" written in the upper-left corner, and staffers reported it as a suspicious package to the police.
Reached at his home Wednesday, Koop confirmed that he wrote a few "beautifully typed" pages on his views of the health care legislation. The fact that it caused a Capitol Hill scare is "nonsense," he said.
"I wasn't aware that sending a hand-delivered letter was an offense," he said, later adding: "I did it over a weekend. I don't have a lot of secretarial help and I'm 93."
Koop wrote in his letter that a Hyde-like amendment, which bars most federal funding for abortion, should be included in any health care bill.
"I believe that including this legislative language is necessary to ensure the elective abortions are not financed either directly through a public plan or indirectly through federal subsidies provided to purchase health insurance through state exchanges," he wrote. "I also find it troubling that the legislation requires all state exchanges to offer at least one health plan that includes abortion coverage - no other federal health plan has that specific requirement today."
Koop, now a professor at Dartmouth Medical School, was Reagan administration's surgeon general from January 1982 to October 1989 and is considered influential in moving evangelicals into the pro-life camp.
(h/t Kathryn Jean Lopez)