Supposed Progressive Obama Religious Leader Uses Health Care Debate for Anti-Abortion Views
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The Rev. Jim Wallis is sitting pretty these days. He's the evangelist the media love -- so much so that Democrats kow-tow before him. He says he's progressive, and has some credentials to back up the claim: anti-poverty work and opposition to the Vietnam War. But he's opposed to legal abortion and same-sex marriage. Nonetheless, eager for an evangelical partner, President Obama named Wallis to the President's Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, giving Wallis the ideal platform from which to try to subvert the debate over health-care reform for his anti-choice cause.
Today, Wallis, in his sanctimonious style, offers " A Faith Declaration for Health-Care Reform" that declares this:
Life and liberty must both be protected. The health care system should protect the sanctity and dignity of life in accordance with existing law and the current rules; and the prohibition on federal funding of abortions should be consistently and diligently applied to any legislation. Strong "conscience" protections should be enacted for health care workers to ensure they have the liberty to exercise their moral and religious beliefs in their profession. Evidence suggests that supporting low-income and pregnant women with adequate health care increases the number of women who chose to carry their child to term, so if we do reform right, we can reduce abortion in America. While religious people don't all agree on all the issues of abortion, we should agree that it must not be allowed to derail the crucial need for comprehensive health care reform.
Despite his talk about not allowing abortion issues to "derail" health reform, that seems to be exactly what Wallis is up to. As Frances Kissling reported in Salon, after winning a major point when Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif., amended the House bill with a conscience clause exempting anti-choice health-care providers from having to cover or perform abortions, as well as an explicit prohibition on the use of federal funds to pay for abortions in accordance with the Hyde amendment and a prohibition on the use of federal subsidy dollars by private plans in the coverage of abortion, Wallis continued his crusade:
This, it now seems, is not enough for Wallis and company. They now want to be sure that if an anti-choice person chooses a plan that does cover abortion, the minuscule part of his premium that is allocated to abortion coverage for all subscribers is not used for abortion.
Get it? It's a chip-away strategy, a nuisance plan on Wallis' part to gum up the health-care works.
Adele M. Stan is AlterNet's Washington bureau chief.