by Jared Bridges
July 20, 2009
On this week’s Washington Watch radio program, FRC President Tony Perkins interviewed Senator Orrin Hatch (R - Utah) about the president’s proposed heath care overhaul.
You can find the audio of the interview here, but below is a transcript:
TONY PERKINS: Well, there is no shortage of problems with the Obama administrations bill on healthcare reform. From the massive cost to the accelerated timetable, I mean this thing is being pushed through. And this is a massive change in public policy and it is vastly expensive. And consider, this is probably about 16% or 17% of the nations economy and were talking about changing this overnight. And another concern for many Americans is the fact that this issue, if it goes through as it is presently proposed, taxpayers will be forced to fund abortion in this country for the first time in over three decades. And one of the Senators thats been leading the charge on this to make sure that Americans are not brought into the process of funding abortion is Senator Orin Hatch of Utah, who introduced an amendment last week to keep abortion out. His amendment was defeated by one vote but, he continues to bring attention to this issue and other aspects of healthcare reform. And he joins me now by phone from Capitol Hill. Senator, thanks for joining us.
SENATOR HATCH: Well, it is nice to be with you. This is a crucial time for our country because what they are trying to do on healthcare.
TONY PERKINS: Not only that but you have been involved in the hearings for the Supreme Court nominee Sonya Sotomayor. I mean, you have been running back and forth. I mean they are intent on getting something out on this healthcare, are they not?
SENATOR HATCH: Well, they are. You know, they are talking about a bill in the House that will be well over a trillion dollars. Well, frankly, when you get rid of the budget gimmicks, it is one and a half trillion to two trillion dollars additional on top of the two and a half trillion dollars were already spending on healthcare in this country. And they dont seem to care about how much it is going to cost. Its just awful. And they use budget gimmicks to try to get the…, theyre trying to pretend that the costs are really lower. But theyre not lower.
TONY PERKINS: I want to get into a little of the agenda here. My guest is Senator Orrin Hatch, from the state of Utah. He is on the Health committee which has been overseeing this healthcare discussion. Its kind of been a one-sided discussion. The votes are such that the Republicans have little chance of changing anything. But you brought up something in the committee, this was expanded to include Planned Parenthood, the nations largest abortion provider. You tried to prohibit that from occurring or at least keeping clear that they could not perform abortions with tax dollars. That amendment was shot down. What, are taxpayers going to be on the hook for paying for abortion under this measure?
SENATOR HATCH: Oh, if they get their way. Now when the House committee was debating what they call the Mikulski Amendment, to expand womens health services, the author of that amendment told committee members that her amendment which would define Planned Parenthood clinics and other entities as quote essential community providers unquote would not require plans to cover abortions. My amendment simply added this language to Title I of the legislation before the committee so taxpayer dollars are not used to finance abortions except in very rare circumstances. My amendment failed by a vote of eleven to twelve in the committee. And it would have prohibited federal dollars from being used to pay for abortions unless the life of the mother was in danger or the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest. Now essentially my amendment would have imposed the Hyde Amendment on all the health coverage options that were created through this bill. Of course this is language that Congress has included in Labor HHS appropriations bill since 1976. And it is my understanding that abortion coverage will be included in this bill because my amendment failed unless it is specifically excluded. Now more specifically based on prior administrative and legal interpretations of federal statutory law, unless abortion is specifically excluded, the Secretary of Health and Human Services could mandate coverage of abortion as both and essential health care benefit and as necessary for meeting minimum qualifying coverage.”
TONY PERKINS: And that is Kathleen Sebelius who is known, who is well known for her position, being supportive of abortion.
SENATOR HATCH: Well, it is Barack Obama. And its the whole egghead group down there at the White House as well. But Sebelius is a part of it.
TONY PERKINS: Well we know where she will come down if she has the opportunity to make this decision.
SENATOR HATCH: Thats right.
TONY PERKINS: Oh, and youre absolutely right. And thats the position weve held and we are asking our listeners, our supporters across the country to contact their senators and let them know that abortion needs to be specifically prohibited under any government plan. Our tax dollars should not go to underwrite abortion.
SENATOR HATCH: Let me tell you how bad it is, as a result of what theyre doing. Beginning in 1973, that was the year of Roe v. Wade, the federal tax payer was paying for 300,000 abortions per year until the Congress passed the Hyde Amendment in 1976, which specifically prohibited coverage of abortion. In other words, the taxpayers wouldnt have to pay for it. In the past we have always included language to prohibit taxpayers dollars to fund abortion and we did this when we were creating the CHIP Program, the Tricare, FEHBP. We also have very stringent restrictions on the funding of abortion. But when the federal Medicaid statute, just so you know how bad they are, when it was passed, nowhere in the statute did it say that abortion would be covered, but the administrators running the Medicaid program deemed abortion to be covered. And as the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals explained it, quote because abortion fits within many of the mandatory care categories, including family planning, out-patient services, in-patient services and physician services, Medicaid covered medically necessary abortions between 1973 and 1976—300,000 abortions paid by the federal tax payers per year until Henry Hyde and lot of the rest of them. Well, I wasnt here at that time but they put through the Hyde Amendment, and we have maintained it ever since. So, I offered my amendment this time because I believe it is important to make it perfectly clear that the tax payer dollars will not be used to fund abortions in the new programs being created in the so called health education, labor, and pensions senate bill except in very limited circumstances, as I said the life of the mother, or the result of rape or incest. The Democrats did accept an amendment presented by Senator Tom Coburn, who has done a great job, very similar to the one that I vowed which prohibited federal dollars being spent on assisted suicide, mercy killing, or euthanasia. But they wouldnt accept our amendment. I feel very confident, in spite of the protestations that some of them said, its an effort to try to open up federal funding of abortions.
TONY PERKINS: I think youre absolutely right and thats why we appreciate the fact that you are there. You are willing to raise this issue. I know your staff has been excellent to work with on this matter. And one final question. I know you have to go Senator, and so I appreciate you joining us. This thing is being rushed through, so rapidly, I want to get your thought on this right now. What do you think is going to happen? What should the American people be doing right now?
SENATOR HATCH: Well, theyre going to try to put both the House bill through and the Senate bill through before we go on recess. Now if the Health bill in the Senate, the Senate health bill, becomes law and its a one-sided, partisan Democrat bill, every vote counted was 13 to ten, I believe it was, on an absolute partisan vote, if that health bill becomes law Americans will not only see American bureaucrat step in between them and their doctors but theyll see their health care costs rise. And theres a strong possibility they could lose their coverage.
TONY PERKINS: Its amazing that were going forward with this. I appreciate you raising these issues Senator. Well continue to do it on the outside. But well encourage people to contact their senators, their congressmen and express their concern over the lack of financial integrity in this measure but also the fact they would be forcing taxpayers to pay for abortion and other objectionable practices.
SENATOR HATCH: Can I say one other thing on the Mikulski Amendment? She said right in open forum that her amendment would not expand abortion services. But when I asked if she would add language prohibiting abortion, she said no. That says it all.
TONY PERKINS: It absolutely does. In fact if folks want to see that they can go to our website frcradio.org. Weve got that clip of you up there bringing up this issue and weve highlighted that because that tells the whole story, just like you said. Well, Senator Hatch thanks for being with us. Thanks for your leadership. We look forward to visiting with you again real soon.
SENATOR HATCH: Thanks for your leadership Tony. We appreciate the Family Research Council and people like you who really back us up and help us on these matters. Thanks a million. I hope that people listening will really get involved and raise cain about it