FRC Misleads on Catholic Hospitals, Abortion Care

Amie Newman

Three Catholic hospitals are for sale in Pennsylvania and the anti-choice Family Research Council is blaming it on the non-existent taxpayer funded abortion care in health care reform.

Three Catholic hospitals in Pennsylvania, all run by Mercy Partners, will likely be sold by the end of the year.

Kevin Cook, Mercy Health Partners president and chief executive officer, said the decision to find a buyer was made after it became increasingly clear that “we weren’t going to generate the investment needed” to remain competitive in the local market.

And while anti-choice organizations like the Family Research Council are blaming the development on “Obamacare,” and more specifically on what they say is the potential for taxpayer-funded abortion care to be forced upon the facilities, this could not be farther from the truth.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) enacted more restrictions on abortion services than ever previously existed – not less. Federal law prohibits federal funding of abortion care (except ostensibly in cases of rape, incest and threats to the life of a woman) under the Hyde Amendment – and that hasn’t changed. Under the so-called “Nelson compromise,” the soon-to-be created government run health exchanges can restrict insurance coverage of abortion care. In addition, states are allowed to ban insurance coverage of abortion care outright even when premiums are paid with your own, private money.  Moreover, the administration banned coverage of abortion in temporary high-risk pools meant to cover people at high risk of health problems who might not otherwise be able to secure insurance until PPACA goes fully into effect.

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This hasn’t stopped Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council (FRC) from creating his own truth. Perkins puts his very own spin on the potential sale,

Without strict conscience protections in place, medical workers everywhere could be ordered to perform these procedures against their will. So Mercy Health is protecting itself the only way it knows how–by getting out of the business before that business includes abortion.

Mercy Hospitals does acknowledge a changing landscape for hospital care, brought on in part by the changes coming from health care reform, in its decision to look for a buyer. However, the hospital notes that they are, in fact, looking for buyers who may retain its “Catholic, nonprofit affiliation” and associated mission-based care.

Finally, if one needed any more proof of the Family Research Council’s blatantly false exploitation of this news for its own anti-choice purposes, the largest association representing Catholic hospitals, the Catholic Health Association actually supported health care reform and the PPACA – passed with the abortion restrictions.  It was a move that placed the organization in direct conflict with the virulently anti-choice, anti-contraception, anti-life United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (and many anti-choice organizations like the FRC) who did (and do) everything to stand in the way of improving access to health care services for millions of Americans, with its myopic opposition to abortion and contraception.

News Politics

Tim Kaine Clarifies Position on Federal Funding for Abortion, Is ‘for the Hyde Amendment’

Ally Boguhn

The Democratic Party voiced its support for rolling back the restriction on federal funding for abortion care in its platform, which was voted through this week.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Hillary Clinton’s running mate, clarified during an interview with CNN on Friday that he still supports the Hyde Amendment’s ban on federal funding for abortion care.

During Kaine’s appearance on New Day, host Alisyn Camerota asked the Democrat’s vice presidential nominee whether he was “for or against” the ban on funding for abortion. Kaine replied that he had “been for the Hyde Amendment,” adding “I haven’t changed my position on that.”

Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, told CNN on Sunday that Kaine had “said that he will stand with Secretary Clinton to defend a woman’s right to choose, to repeal the Hyde amendment.” Another Clinton spokesperson later clarified to the network that Kaine’s commitment had been “made privately.”

The Democratic Party voiced its support for rolling back the restriction on federal funding for abortion care in its platform, which was voted through this week.

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“We will continue to oppose—and seek to overturn—federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment,” reads the platform.

Kaine this month told the Weekly Standard that he was not aware that the party had put language outlining support for repealing Hyde into the platform, noting that he had “traditionally been a supporter of the Hyde amendment.”

Clinton has repeatedly said that she supports Hyde’s repeal, calling the abortion care restriction “hard to justify.”

Abortion rights advocates say that Hyde presents a major obstacle to abortion access in the United States.

“The Hyde amendment is a violent piece of legislation that keeps anyone on Medicaid from accessing healthcare and denies them full control over their lives,” Yamani Hernandez, executive director of the National Network of Abortion Funds, said in a statement. “Whether or not folks believe in the broken U.S. political system, we are all impacted by the policies that it produces. … Abortion access issues go well beyond insurance and the ability to pay, but removing the Hyde Amendment will take us light years closer to where we need to be.”

News Politics

Tim Kaine Changes Position on Federal Funding for Abortion Care

Ally Boguhn

The Obama administration, however, has not signaled support for rolling back the Hyde Amendment's ban on federal funding for abortion care.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), the Democratic Party’s vice presidential candidate, has promised to stand with nominee Hillary Clinton in opposing the Hyde Amendment, a ban on federal funding for abortion care.

Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, told CNN’s State of the Union Sunday that Kaine “has said that he will stand with Secretary Clinton to defend a woman’s right to choose, to repeal the Hyde amendment,” according to the network’s transcript.

“Voters can be 100 percent confident that Tim Kaine is going to fight to protect a woman’s right to choose,” Mook said.

The commitment to opposing Hyde was “made privately,” Clinton spokesperson Jesse Ferguson later clarified to CNN’s Edward Mejia Davis.

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Kaine’s stated support for ending the federal ban on abortion funding is a reversal on the issue for the Virginia senator. Kaine this month told the Weekly Standard  that he had not “been informed” that this year’s Democratic Party platform included a call for repealing the Hyde Amendment. He said he has “traditionally been a supporter of the Hyde amendment.”

Repealing the Hyde Amendment has been an issue for Democrats on the campaign trail this election cycle. Speaking at a campaign rally in New Hampshire in January, Clinton denounced Hyde, noting that it made it “harder for low-income women to exercise their full rights.”

Clinton called the federal ban on abortion funding “hard to justify” when asked about it later that month at the Brown and Black Presidential Forum, adding that “the full range of reproductive health rights that women should have includes access to safe and legal abortion.”

Clinton’s campaign told Rewire during her 2008 run for president that she “does not support the Hyde amendment.”

The Democratic Party on Monday codified its commitment to opposing Hyde, as well as the Helms Amendment’s ban on foreign assistance funds being used for abortion care. 

The Obama administration, however, has not signaled support for rolling back Hyde’s ban on federal funding for abortion care.

When asked about whether the president supported the repeal of Hyde during the White House press briefing Tuesday, Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz said he did not “believe we have changed our position on the Hyde Amendment.”

When pushed by a reporter to address if the administration is “not necessarily on board” with the Democratic platform’s call to repeal Hyde, Schultz said that the administration has “a longstanding view on this and I don’t have any changes in our position to announce today.”