A March 13 WorldNetDaily column by Dave Welch repeats a claim from the Heritage Foundation that "the Senate-passed Obamacare bill funds abortion in several ways, even creating an appropriation for Community Health Centers that contains no restriction on abortion subsidies." Welch asserted that this means "millions of taxpayers fund the taking of innocent life, escalating the rate and frequency of abortions and further enslaving women of all ages to the physical, emotional and spiritual trauma."
But claims that the Senate bill funds abortion have been debunked, as has the specific Heritage claim about community health centers. From Politics Daily's David Gibson:
Perhaps the most eye-catching claim by anti-abortion forces is that upwards of $7 billion designated in the Senate bill ($11 billion in the president's amended version) would be funneled directly to Community Health Centers (CHCs) which, as Yoest wrote, "include Planned Parenthood clinics that provide abortions." The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) has made the same point, arguing that "There is no restriction in the current laws authorizing CHCs that prevents these centers from performing abortions."
This meme has become the unchallenged talking point for pro-life opponents of the health care reform bill. But it is mistaken on several points.
Most obviously, none of the 1,250 Federally Qualified Health Centers, or FQHCs, that would receive the billions in money through the reform bill offer abortion services. These federally regulated community health care centers were started as part of the War on Poverty in the 1960s to provide primary and preventative care to poor communities across the country. The Senate health care bill would provide money to allow them to serve an estimated 15 million more people who do not have adequate health care.
As the National Association of Community Health Centers said in a statement this week, none of the health centers receiving money under the Senate bill "provide abortions to any of their patients, and we are not aware of any that have ever done so." In addition, the statement said that "Health centers do not plan to, nor are they seeking to, become providers of abortion. On the contrary, last year health centers provided prenatal, perinatal, and post-natal/post-partum care to 1 of every 8 children born in the U.S."
The federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has also said that none of the health centers are abortion providers, and none of them are operated by Planned Parenthood.
Moreover, it is unlikely that Planned Parenthood or any other provider of reproductive health services could qualify as a Community Health Center because these centers by law have to provide all-around care for both men and women, and for children -- "from an earache and runny nose to high blood pressure and diabetes," Dan Hawkins, policy director of the National Association of Community Health Centers, told me. "It is acute and chronic care." Planned Parenthood clinics and the like are simply not equipped to do that. Besides, a majority of the board of each Community Health Center must be made up of current or registered patients, a standard no abortion clinic could meet.
And contrary to claims by many pro-life groups, any money from a new health care law would be subject to the same Hyde amendment restrictions as money from the Stupak version of the House bill (which allocates $12 billion to community health centers).
Any chance WND will tell the truth on this issue? Not likely.