Religious Groups Say “Abortion Mandate” Ads Mislead

Lynda Waddington

Two religious organizations have called on the Family Research Council to shut down a television ad and Web site that contain “massive misinformation” related to the national discussion on health care reform.

Two
religious organizations have called on the Family Research Council and
other anti-abortion groups to shut down a television ad and Web site
that contain “massive misinformation” related to the national
discussion on health care reform.

The site in question, “Stop the Abortion Mandate,” kicked off with a
July 23 webcast that included spokespeople for more than 15
anti-abortion organizations and two Republican members of Congress. As
The Iowa Independent previously reported,
speakers who took part in the webcast painted a grim picture for those
who oppose abortion: Passage of health care reform not containing a
specific exclusion for reproductive health services will result in the
closure of Catholic hospitals, the refusal of “pro-life” individuals to
enter the medical field and the collapse of Crisis Pregnancy Centers
due to the lack of medical personnel who oppose abortion.

“This is quite literally a defining moment for us,” said Charmaine
Yoest, president and chief executive of Americans United for Life. “If
the abortion lobby succeeds in defining abortion as health care, it
will have shifted the entire debate.”

The television ad,
which has been playing in Iowa, portrays the conversation of a husband
and wife, claiming that current health care proposals would deny
funding for essential treatments while providing public funding for
abortions. It is entitled “After a Government Takeover.”

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Rev. Dr. Carlton W. Veasey, president and chief executive of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice,
said the politicians and activists who have put their names and
reputations behind this campaign are misleading their constituents.

“The Family Research Council and its allies in this campaign have
consistently and repeatedly twisted the truth to promote their agenda
and bring down health care reform,” Veasey said. “Because abortion is a
critical component of women’s reproductive health care, it should be
included in a health care package. But the fact is that there is no
‘mandate.’”

Chris Korzen, executive director of Catholics United,
said his organization is mobilizing membership to e-mail the Family
Research Council’s offices and urge the organization to suspend its
misinformation campaign. In addition, Catholics United have planned a
series of actions throughout the August Congressional recess to set the
record straight about the current health care reform proposal and the
truth behind the Family Research Council’s activities.

“Either the Family Research Council is seriously misinformed, or it
is intentionally distorting the truth in order to derail health care
reform,” Korzen said. “If the Family Research Council was truly
committed to human life it would focus its efforts on ensuring that the
tens of millions of Americans who currently lack health insurance can
get the care they need. This attack … is unhelpful, untruthful and not
at all pro-life.”

Veasey admits that “honest people” can and do have “profound disagreements” about when and if abortion should be permissable.

“But this issue should not be used to manipulate public opinion on
health care reform,” he said. “Leaders of public opinion have a
responsibility to engage in honest discourse and to respect diverse
views. In this case, that can best be achieved by shutting down this
Web site and pulling the Family Research Council television ads set to
run in five states and any other media that distorts the facts.”

The Senate Finance Committee, led by chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and
ranking Republican Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and , has yet to publicly
present a health care reform bill. The bill that was approved Friday by
the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Finance, however, includes specific language
that would require abortion services to continue with the existing
status quo. That is, the only abortion services that could be paid for
with government funds would be those in which the mother’s life was
endangered or in cases of rape or incest.

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