WASHINGTON More than 60 abortion rights groups have signed a 55-page report to President-elect Barack Obama urging him to include abortion coverage in any national health care plan and to help roll back dozens of pro-life laws, including bans on taxpayer funding of abortion and partial-birth abortion in what one pro-life group says would amount to an "abortion bailout."
The reportposted at Obama's transition Web site Change.govis a sort of "wish list" by abortion groups for the incoming administration. Among its signatories are the American Civil Liberties Union, NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The report is lengthy but begins with 15 items the groups hope Obama prioritizes in the first 100 days. The groups titled their report "Advancing Reproductive Rights and Health in a New Administration."
Even though Obama's Web site makes it clear "the document was produced by an outside party and submitted" to the Obama transition team, pro-life groups nevertheless are concerned, in part because pro-choice groups made up part of Obama's election base, and also because Obama himself is a staunch pro-choicer who once told a likeminded audience he "will never back down" in his support of abortion rights.
"President-elect Barack Obama spoke of finding 'common ground' on abortion policy, but abortion advocacy groups clearly see an open door," Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List said in a news release. "After a decade of common-sense restrictions on taxpayer funding, the abortion industry thinks it deserves a bailout from President-Elect Obama."
The Susan B. Anthony List is encouraging pro-lifers to contact their senators through its Web site and urge them to oppose taxpayer funding of abortion. The goal is to secure 41 votes to block any such legislation with a filibuster.
The report requests that Obama, during the next four years, "signal public support" for and call on Congress to pass the Freedom of Choice Act, a bill that would make abortion a "fundamental right," overturn the ban on partial-birth abortion and other pro-life laws nationwide, and guarantee that abortion remains legal, even if Roe v. Wade is overturned. The report calls it "important legislation." Obama was a sponsor of it as a senator and during his presidential run he pledged to sign it if elected.
As for Obama's first 100 days in office, the groups urge the president-elect to sign executive orders and back legislation that would force American taxpayers to pay for abortions. Among their priorities, the groups ask that Obama, in the first 100 days:
• work with Congress to repeal the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits Medicaid and other federal funds from paying for abortions. Medicaid funded about 300,000 abortions in the year prior to the Hyde Amendment's enactment in 1976.
• put forward a health-care reform bill that covers a "full range of reproductive health services, including contraception, maternity care and abortion care."
• more than double funding (from $300 million to $700 million) for Title X, which funds Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider. Although the funds technically are prohibited from funding abortions, that has done little to persuade pro-lifers to support it.
• include in his first budget $1 billion for international family planning programs, including $65 million for the controversial U.N. Population Fund, which has been denied funding during the Bush administration based on the agency's support of China's coercive population-control policy.
• defund abstinence-only programs backed by the Bush administration.
• select judges and executive officials who believe in a "fundamental constitutional right to privacy, including the right to have an abortion."
• rescind the Mexico City Policy, which bars federal funds from going to organizations that promote or perform abortions in foreign countries.
• include in his first budget at least $50 million "to promote comprehensive sex education in our schools and communities nationwide."
"We look forward to delivering the votes (pro-life Sen. Minority Leader Mitch) McConnell needs to ensure our hard-earned taxpayer dollars stay out of abortionists' coffers, especially since national abortion numbers are already on the decline," said Dannenfelser, the Susan B. Anthony List executive.
For more information on the organization's project to sway senators, visit www.sba-list.org/abortionbailout.