Glenn Beck advanced the discredited claim that federal funding will go to fund elective abortions in Pennsylvania in order to suggest that President Obama lied when he promised federal funds would not pay for such abortions.
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National Right to Life, Family Research Council falsely claim federal funds are going to fund abortions in PA
National Right to Life: The Obama administration has provided funds to PA's "high-risk" insurance pools which will "cover any abortion that is legal in Pennsylvania." On July 13, the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) issued a press release announcing that the "Obama Administration will give Pennsylvania $160 million to set up a new 'high-risk' insurance program under a provision of the federal health care legislation enacted in March -- and has quietly approved a plan submitted by an appointee of Governor Edward Rendell (D) under which the new program will cover any abortion that is legal in Pennsylvania."
FRC picked up false claim: "Pennsylvania has already received approval from the Obama Administration to use the funds to provide abortions." Also on July 13, the Family Research Council (FRC) responded to the National Right to Life's false claim with its own press release, saying:
Family Research Council Action responded today to a discovery made by the National Right to Life Committee that the Obama Administration has given federal approval to send Pennsylvania $160 million in taxpayer funds which will directly fund abortions through President Obama's recently enacted health care law.
This is the first known instance of direct federal funding of abortion through what is called the "high risk insurance pools." Pennsylvania has already received approval from the Obama Administration to use the funds to provide abortions to pool participants; the abortion funding is available immediately.
Media chain: Right-wing blogs take the falsehood, gin up outrage
Kathryn Jean Lopez: NRLC "pulls the obstructing veil away from the continuing story of Barack Obama's life lies" On July 13, National Review Online editor Kathryn Jean Lopez claimed that the Obama administration's plan for Pennsylvania's high-risk insurance program "includes abortion" in its benefits package. She further lauded Douglas Johnson and the National Right to Life Committee for "pulling the obstructing veil away from the continuing story of Barack Obama's life lies." She concluded by suggesting that the "first answer of substance about just what Bart Stupak & Co. got out of the White House in the name of the unborn" was: "Nothing."
LifeNews.com: "Obama administration has officially approved the first instance of taxpayer funded abortions" in PA. In a July 13 article, LifeNews.com reported that the "Obama Administration will give Pennsylvania $160 million to set up a new 'high-risk' insurance program" which "will cover any abortion that is legal in Pennsylvania." LifeNews.com claimed that this was proof that "[t]he Obama administration has officially approved the first instance of taxpayer funded abortions under the new national government-run health care program." Further, the article also quoted NRLC legislative director Douglas Johnson, who suggested that a provision stating that "elective abortions are not covered" is a "red herring." Johnson also claimed that "[u]nder the Rendell-Sebelius plan, federal funds will subsidize coverage of abortion performed for any reason, except sex selection."
Hoft: Obama's promise that Health Care Reform would not include funding of abortions "was a lie." In a July 13 Gateway Pundit post, Jim Hoft wrote that "Obama told Americans back in November that democrats would not sneak in funding for abortion in their health care bill" and claimed that this promise "was a lie." Hoft then reposted the LifeNews.com article claiming the Obama administration had "officially approved ... taxpayer funded abortions."
CNS: "If you want proof that President Obama's Executive Order on taxpayer-funded abortion was a sham, look no further than Pennsylvania." CNSNews.com reported on the alleged "taxpayer funding of abortion" on July 14, echoing House Minority Leader John Boehner's claim that "[i]f you want proof that President Obama's Executive Order on taxpayer-funded abortion was a sham, look no further than Pennsylvania." The article also forwarded the FRC's claim that "[t]he $160 million in taxpayer funds for Pennsylvania is the first known instance of direct federal funding of abortions through the new high-risk insurance pools."
PA, HHS, Stupak debunk notion that PA high-risk pools will cover elective abortions
PA insurance department: The state "could not and would not use federal money to cover abortions" beyond what was previously allowed under federal law. In a July 15 interview with Philadelphia radio station WHYY, Roseanne Placey, press secretary for the Pennsylvania insurance department, said that Pennsylvania "could not and would not use federal money to cover elective abortions," and that they "could not and would not use federal money to go beyond the scope of the Hyde Amendment in the case of non-elective abortions." Placey added that the "Hyde Amendment bars the use of federal funds to pay for abortions, except to save the life of the mother or in cases of rape or incest." Placey further stated: "There's something lost in all of this, this is a high risk pool. The likelihood that women would be coming to this program to have abortion coverage is very limited. These are people with serious illnesses that have gone without coverage and care because of pre-existing conditions."
HHS: Abortion "will not be covered" in PA "except in the cases of rape or incest, or where the life of the woman would be endangered." A July 14 Health and Human Services news release stated:
As is the case with FEHB [Federal Employees Health Benefits] plans currently, and with the Affordable Care Act and the President's related Executive Order more generally, in Pennsylvania and in all other states abortions will not be covered in the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) except in the 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. We will reiterate this policy in guidance to those running the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan at both the state and federal levels. The contracts to operate the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan include a requirement to follow all federal laws and guidance.
HHS: "[A]ll high-risk pools -- whether run by the states or by the federal government -- will ... only cover abortions in cases of rape or incest or when the life of the mother is in danger." On July 14, The Hill reported that HHS spokeswoman Jenny Backus said that the charge that Pennsylvania's high-risk pool will cover abortions beyond Hyde is inaccurate:
Jenny Backus, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said the charge is inaccurate. She said all high-risk pools -- whether run by the states or by the federal government -- will follow the same rules as do the insurance plans for federal employees, which only cover abortions in cases of rape or incest or when the life of the mother is in danger.
HHS says conservative accusations are wrong in several respects:
1) Pennsylvania hasn't signed a high-risk pool contract with HHS yet;
2) States won't begin providing services under the high-risk pools until Aug. 1, by which time HHS guidance will be in place;
3) HHS contracts with states make it clear that the federal government will be issuing guidance "so they know they will have to live by our guidance per the contract."
Stupak: Federal funds "may not be used for abortion under the Affordable Care Act -- including the pre-existing condition insurance pools currently being implemented in Pennsylvania and states across the country." On July 14, Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) released a statement "rejecting claims that Pennsylvania's pre-existing condition insurance pools ... allow federal funding for abortion":
"This is the latest example of some right to life groups politicizing life issues in an effort to undermine health care reform. The President's Executive Order makes clear that federal funds may not be used for abortion under the Affordable Care Act -- including the pre-existing condition insurance pools currently being implemented in Pennsylvania and states across the country. In accordance with the Executive Order, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has directed states that federal funds provided under health care reform may not be used to fund abortion. HHS has reiterated this policy in response to the current accusations from the National Right to Life Committee. While these recycled scare tactics may make for good headlines, we should not lose sight of the fact that tens of thousands of individuals across the nation who have been denied coverage by health insurance companies due to pre-existing conditions will for the first time have access to affordable health insurance. We need to take a whole life approach to health care which looks out for those who are out of the womb as well as those in the womb."
Beck runs with debunked claim
Beck: "My tax dollars, your tax dollars," are "going to fund the murder of children." On the July 15 broadcast of his radio show, Beck said: "Oh, by the way, did you hear that we're providing -- we're providing abortions now. The government is paying for abortions, so -- don't we have an executive order saying that we won't do that? Isn't that really weird?" He added: "Congratulations, Joe [Stupak] [sic], think of the number of babies that will be killed with your name. Congratulations, Mr. Stupak, for now having my tax dollars, your tax dollars going to fund the murder of children."
Beck cited CNS article to claim that Obama lied when he said health care would not include funding for abortions. On the July 15 edition of his Fox News show, after reading from the CNSNews.com article, Beck suggested that Obama did not "play fair" when he said that the health care bill would not include federal funding for abortion. He added: "We want people to be well. We want to help the poor. We want to help the sick, the underprivileged. We're not doing that -- not everybody is covered. And now, our priority seems to be to make sure the abortion centers are set up and funded right away. Is the ink, Mr. President, even dry on your executive order? What is your word worth, sir?" Later on the broadcast, Beck said that the president "promised us" the health care bill "would not include funding abortions, but it does. Surprise."