Obama Implies Opposition to Abortion Restriction

Tuesday, 10 Nov 2009 10:48 AM

By Dan Weil

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President Obama has indicated in vaguely worded language that he thinks the abortion restrictions included in the House’s healthcare bill went too far.

In an interview with ABC, he didn’t plainly state opposition to the bill’s provision meant to prohibit federal funding for abortion. The one thing that is clear from Obama’s comments is that he is trying to placate both sides on the issue.

“We're not looking to change what is the principle that has been in place for a very long time, which is federal dollars are not used to subsidize abortions,” the president said.

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“And I want to make sure that the provision that emerges meets that test -- that we are not in some way sneaking in funding for abortions, but, on the other hand, that we're not restricting women's insurance choices.”

Those words show opposition to federal funding of abortion, but support for private insurance plans that cover it.

Here’s where Obama suggests that the House’s abortion restriction went too far: “I think that there are strong feelings on both sides. And what that tells me is that there needs to be some more work before we get to the point where we're not changing the status quo.”

By saying “there needs to be some more work,” presumably he means the language should be less restrictive on abortion.

But Obama’s not exactly screaming that message out loud. In fact, it could be that he’s giving himself wiggle room on the issue – that he supports efforts to weaken the restrictions, but will also support a bill that includes them.

The abortion amendment in the House bill bars government money from going to “any health plan that includes coverage of abortion,” except if rape or incest is involved or the woman’s life is in jeopardy.

Because the House bill gives government money to private insurance plans that cover poor and middle-class people, those plans would be barred from paying for abortions too.

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