Another Family Research Council Ad Misleads on Federal Funding for Abortion in Health Reform; FactCheck.Org Calls Them Out

Jodi Jacobson

The Family Research Council, following on a TV ad last week roundly criticized by groups such as Catholics United for its misleading and inaccurate claims, has launched a second and equally misleading advertisement claiming that federal funding for abortion care under health reform will rob senior citizens of coverage for necessary surgeries. FactCheck.Org calls them out.

The Family Research Council, following on a TV ad last week roundly criticized by groups such as Catholics United for its misleading and inaccurate claims, has launched a second and equally misleading advertisement claiming that federal funding for abortion care under health reform will rob senior citizens of coverage for necessary surgeries.

The only problem is that, by law, the federal government does not fund abortions other than in cases of rape, incest, or where the mother’s health or life are in jeopardy, and no health care bill now under consideration by Congress would change that.

As first reported by FactCheck.Org:

A new TV ad sponsored by an anti-abortion group shows a white-haired
man fretting that under a federal health plan, "They won’t pay for my
surgery, but we’re forced to pay for abortions."

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“Will this be our future?” the ad asks, merging the fears of seniors
worried about their health care with those of anti-abortion advocates.
“Our greatest generation, denied care. Our future generation, denied
life."

Actually, notes FactCheck, laws prohibit public funding of abortion,

[s]tarting with the 1976
Hyde Amendment, which prohibits public funding of abortions through the
Medicaid program except in cases of rape, incest or life endangerment.
And according to the Guttmacher Institute, whose research is generally
respected by both sides of the debate, there are a number of other restrictions on the expenditure of federal funds for abortion.
The TRICARE system, which covers active and retired members of the
military and their families, pays for abortions only when the mother’s
life is in danger. Military hospitals aren’t permitted to perform
abortions, even if they’re privately paid for, except in cases of life
endangerment or rape or incest. Similarly, the Federal Employees Health
Benefits Program, which covers 9 million federal workers and their
dependents, is prohibited from paying for insurance coverage of
abortions, with the same exceptions as those in the Hyde Amendment.
Ditto for the Indian Health Service.

The FactCheck page includes the video and a longer analysis, but is now slightly outdated as to the content of current health reform bills in Congress.  As noted there, most bills pending in Congress don’t mention abortion at all.  On Friday, however, the Energy and Commerce Committee passed a bill that included the Capps Amendment, which ensures that no federal funds used to subsidize private health insurers will be used directly to pay for abortion care.

In a press release, Catholics United states:

“The inclusion of the Capps Amendment represents a positive step toward health care reform that preserves existing policies prohibiting federal funding for abortion services and ensuring conscience protections for health care providers,” said Chris Korzen, executive director of Catholics United. “While some questions do remain, we are confident that health care reform legislation, when finalized, will represent a workable common ground solution that can find broad support from across the spectrum of the abortion debate.”

Nonetheless, continues the Catholics United statement:

Despite last week’s developments, the Family Research Council has refused to discontinue a misleading television advertising campaign intended to scare viewers into opposing the health reform package.  Incredibly, the Family Research Council went as far as to denounce the Capps Amendment as evidence that the current legislative proposal will fund abortions.

Family Research Council and right wing conservatives claim that family planning amendments will lead to abortion coverage.  But as noted by FactCheck:

Under [one] House bill
, "family planning" services are covered, but it would be up to a
Health Benefits Advisory Council, and ultimately the secretary of
Health and Human Services, to determine what that actually included.

In the Senate bill, abortion foes are most unhappy about an amendment to the health overhaul bill approved
by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that they say
would fund abortions. Authored by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, a Democrat
from Maryland, the provision states that "preventive care and
screenings" for women would be covered by health plans, and that 
"community providers" would be part of "health insurance plan
networks." Those providers would include, according to a Mikulski press
release, "women’s health clinics, community health centers and HIV/AIDS
clinics."

As reported recently on Rewire, the Mikulski Amendment does not provide federal funding for abortion care.

As FactCheck continues:

Whether or not the secretary of Health and Human Services, or the
advisory panels that are supposed to make recommendations to HHS, would
choose to cover abortions under any new federal plan is something we
can’t predict. Our crystal ball functions no better on the topic of
whether the elderly, or anyone else for that matter, will get the care
they need under such a plan or under Medicare.

On the ad campaign, Catholics United suggests the real agenda is to undermine health care reform:

“The Family Research Council’s continued effort to distort the facts leads one to wonder whether the group’s true intent is to derail health care reform. Instead of issuing misleading attacks and inciting fear, the Family Research Council would do better to support efforts aimed at implementing abortion-neutral policies in health care reform legislation.”

 

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