Right brings abortion into healthcare debate

Conservative Christian group launches anti-reform ad saying abortion would be paid for but surgery wouldn't

By Alex Koppelman
Published July 29, 2009 2:45PM (EDT)

There are a lot of ways for the right to attack healthcare reform plans currently being debated in Congress, and they're taking full advantage. The tack that might have the most upside for conservatives, especially for conservative groups looking to get a little fundraising boost in the process, is to hit reform by saying it will mean that taxpayers will have to fund abortions.

That's what the Family Research Council is doing with a new ad that attacks Democratic health care proposals on two fronts, saying government will ration care and saying it'll use the money to pay for abortion. (Hat-tip to Ben Smith.) The spot is pretty obviously intended to be reminiscent of the famous "Harry and Louise" ads that were so successful during the last big fight over healthcare -- it features an elderly couple who've just learned that the government won't pay for the husband's surgery.

"To think that Planned Parenthood is included in the government-run healthcare plan and spending tax dollars on abortions," the husband says. "They won't pay for my surgery, but we're forced to pay for abortions."

There are some factual problems with the ad, including the suggestion that a necessary surgery wouldn't be covered. And in a letter to Politico responding to an op-ed written by FRC President Tony Perkins that echoed the ad's arguments, NARAL Pro-Choice America President Nancy Keenan wrote, "The bills moving through Congress now do not reference abortion, so it’s obvious that Perkins is injecting this issue unnecessarily into the health reform debate in hopes that it will bring down the whole endeavor. That’s outrageous .... What [Perkins] and his allies are demanding is a new nationwide abortion ban in the private health insurance market."

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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