Pro-Life Clergy to endorse Obama's Healthcare plan
A group of clergy known for their strong opposition to abortion, led by the head of the evangelical, pro-life Church of God in Christ, will endorse the President's health care plan, reinforcing his assertion that taxpayer dollars won't pay for abortions.
Bishop Charles E. Blake Sr., a Los Angeles minister who heads the massive Church of God in Christ -- are scheduled to announce their support for the legislation at a news conference this morning. And they will offer a full embrace of the government-run insurance option that some Republicans have claimed opens the door to taxpayer-funded abortions.
"In accord with our commitment to Christian teaching, we wholeheartedly affirm the president's position that medical costs related to the abortion of fetuses shall not be covered by healthcare plans funded by this initiative," Blake will say today, according to an advance copy of his remarks.
The abortion issue is, admittedly, complicated. Under the plan, millions of Americans currently uninsured will purchase insurance from the private market. An estimated 2 million could receive insurance from their employer without any government subsidy. As is the case now, private employers and not the government will decide if abortion is covered. Pro-life leaders are divided if it is really appropriate to oppose employers providing insurance just because some of them may adopt plans that cover abortion. About 2/3rds of private plans cover abortion but this has never been a major issue for most right-to-life organizations.
In other cases, workers will be able to buy private insurance on exchanges. This gets more complicated. The government will help set up the exchange. Some private insurance companies may choose to cover abortion but consumers would be guaranteed a pro-life option. Consumers may receive tax credits depending on their income, to help purchase insurance. If there is a public option, it would function like Medicaid does now. The underlying law allows abortion coverage in Medicaid, but an appropriations rider passed every year known as the Hyde Amendment prohibits abortion funding. Democratic leaders have promoted a compromise that leaves the status quo in place. Abortion would be prohibited based on the annually renewed Hyde Amendment.
The Church of God in Christ is one of the world's largest Pentecostal denominations, with an estimated 6 million members. Its leadership, including Blake, has been heavily courted over the years by Republicans including former President George W. Bush, who viewed them as potential conservative allies because of their views on abortion, same-sex marriage and embryonic stem cell research.