By Wililam Wan
The new bill that’s supposed to build common ground between those for and against abortion rights hasn’t even been officially unveiled yet, but religious leaders are already coming out for and against it.
Christian conservative group Family Research Council already has denounced the bill, making arguments mainly related to funding issues for abortion and whether patients would be referred for abortions. “You don’t reduce something by subsidizing it,” said council President Tony Perkins. “You can’t say you’ll ‘reduce the need’ for abortion by underwriting its costs.”
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Jim Wallis, a prominent leader among progressive evangelicals, has come out strongly supporting the bill. The legislation, he said, “addresses both how best to prevent unwanted pregnancies and support pregnant women who desire to carry their baby to term. It also makes adoption easier. The bill demonstrates how searching for common ground can lead to higher ground, in ways that both sides of the debate can embrace.”
The legislation is being rolled out by Democratic U.S. Reps. Tim Ryan (Ohio) and Rosa DeLauro (Conn.) — from opposite sides of the abortion divide — today at a 11:30 a.m. press conference. They’ve have lined up several religious leaders to support them. The bill is supposed to encourage pregnancy prevention and greater government support for young mothers. More details on the bill and the opposing sides in a Post story today on abortion opponents wading into health care reform debate. RNS story here goes into more detail about the Ryan-DeLauro bill itself. Christian Post also writes about it here.
Federal funding and abortions is turning out to be one of keys to this battle as well as debate over healthcare. Post reporter Rob Stein offers a great breakdown in today’s paper of how federal funding on the issue of abortion currently works.
Meanwhile, on another abortion front, opposition to the health care reform bills is heating up. A webcast that includes many powerhouse religious conservatives is scheduled tonight at 9 p.m. More details at the impromptu website they’ve created called StopTheAbortionMandate.com.
One of the main organizers, Americans United for Life, sent letters to congressmen and one to President Obama as well outlining their problems with the health care bills. Here’s a snippet from their letter:
“We will oppose any bill that (1) fails to explicitly exclude both abortion funding and mandatory abortion coverage, and (2) fails to protect the rights of conscience for all Americans.”
Among social issue Christians, Wallis also had this to say in support of the health care reform:
“At this point in the debate, abortion should not become an issue that could doom the chances of any legislation passing. For too long, abortion has been a contentious and ultimately unproductive debate between simplified and polarizing positions of “life” and ‘choice.’ A far better approach is to advance a common ground dialogue with both sides that results in real solutions. Federal funding of abortions is prohibited by current law, and that prohibition should be maintained. Any final legislation should make clear that no private insurance company will be mandated to pay for an abortion, nor should they be prohibited from paying for an abortion. These provisions would maintain the current status quo, and demonstrate how sensible common ground can bring people together.”