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Mr. PITTS. I thank the gentleman. I appreciate your overview and scheduling this hour over this so-called health reform and the abortion connection because this health care reform plan contains a hidden abortion mandate that the American people don't even realize is there.
It will mean that health care insurers will be forced to cover abortions. It will mean that taxpayer money will be used to subsidize abortions. Both a mandate and a subsidy against the moral objections of millions of pro-life Americans under the proposed health care reform bill which we're considering now in the Energy and Commerce Committee, on which I sit. And we began opening statements today. We will begin markup tomorrow. And it will continue next week for 3 more days.
Virtually under this bill every individual would be required to have health care that meets what they call minimum benefit standards.
Now, the bill does not design these minimum benefit standards, but instead it establishes a new government health board called the Health Benefits Advisory Committee. This committee is chaired by the Surgeon General and, in concert with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, will issue binding decrees on what is and is not considered a minimum Federal benefit standard.
There is absolutely no doubt, as the gentleman from Louisiana stated, that this process will result in mandated coverage of abortion, along with Federal subsidies for such coverage, unless Congress explicitly excludes abortion services.
When talking about health care reform, the gentleman mentioned President Obama himself stated that reproductive care is essential care, basic care. And Secretary Clinton just recently clarified that, ``Productive health includes access to abortion.''
History has demonstrated, as he pointed out, that unless abortion is explicitly excluded, administrative agencies and the courts will mandate it. We have seen this time and time again. The Federal Medicaid statute was silent on the issue of abortion, but the administration and the courts deemed abortion on demand to be mandated coverage. And, as a result, over 300,000 abortions a year were paid for with taxpayer funds before it was stopped.
In 1979, Congressman Henry Hyde asked the Indian Health Services where they found their authority to pay for abortions. They responded, ``We would have no basis for refusing to pay for abortions.'' In both of these cases, explicit exclusions had to be added to ensure that taxpayers would not have to continue to pay for abortions.
And so every year when Labor and HHS that covers Medicaid is adopted, we have to adopt the Hyde amendment. It's an annual event.
Under this bill, any individual who does not have a plan that meets the minimum benefit standards, they will be forced to pay an additional 2 1/2 percent penalty. Tax penalty. Any employer who does not provide coverage to his employees that meets these standards will pay up to an additional 8 percent tax penalty.
And so that means all premium payers and taxpayers in America who do not want a plan that pays for abortion will be penalized for it. In addition to mandating this coverage for abortion, the bill will also provide massive subsidies for abortion.
The bill both authorizes and appropriates funding for premium subsidies. So we won't have to appropriate money in the future if we pass this bill. And without explicit language to clarify that taxpayer dollars cannot and should not fund abortion, massive subsidies for premiums and cost-sharings will be used to pay for abortions against the moral objections of, as I have said, millions of pro-life Americans.
The issue here is simple: Americans should not be forced to have their tax dollars pay for abortion. And that's why I'm going to offer amendments in the Energy and Commerce Committee in the markup to eliminate the mandate, to eliminate the subsidies, and also to keep the bill from preempting State laws.
This bill is basically an end run to establish FOCA--Freedom of Choice Act. All the pro-life community knows what that is. This bill would preempt all State laws that would interfere with this bill and access to abortion.
We should not be forced to be unwitting participants as the abortion industry uses this law to mainstream the destruction of human life into Americans' health care industry. Health care is about saving and nurturing life, not about taking life. Abortion is not health care. And this bill seeks to establish that.
The majority of Americans, as was pointed out, do not support public funding for abortion, use of their taxpayers dollars for abortion, and they should not have this abortion coverage forcefully thrust upon them.
And so with that, I thank the gentleman for scheduling this hour. It's very important that we alert the public as to what is coming down the pike in the next couple of weeks so they can get involved and express their views to their Members so that they reflect their views here on the floor.
Mr. FLEMING. If the gentleman would allow, I'd like to ask a question. Congressman Pitts, are you saying then that perhaps the other side of the aisle, the pro-choice or the pro-abortion folks, are really piggybacking onto a bill that has nothing to do with abortion in order to reach their goals, their aims that they perhaps have been trying to attempt for many years?
Mr. PITTS. They know, in response to the gentleman, they know that if the bill is silent on the issue of abortion, they will control who's appointed to the Benefits Advisory Committee. And they have expressed their intent, from the President on down to all the organizations who have lobbied for this health care bill, that they intend that abortion will be a basic essential service.
And so they're relying on that advisory committee, on the Secretary of Health and Human Services, on the courts, on the administrators to guarantee that this will be provided. Friends, this is the big battle for our time. This is the greatest civil rights issue of our generation. And if we lose this battle, it's over.
Now is the time for all citizens to weigh in if they don't want their tax dollars used to set up this massive abortion scheme that's coming through this bill.
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Mr. PITTS. I want just to highlight something that the gentleman from Iowa said. I think this is really a good way to explain it.
When does a baby's life have value?
Now, we know no one in this Congress would kill a 1-month-old baby or a 2-week-old baby, but if you could make life a line and put that dividing line at birth, what makes a baby that is 2 weeks old any more valuable than a baby who is 2 weeks before birth? What makes a 1-month-old baby any more valuable than one who is a month before birth? What makes a 3-month-old baby more valuable than a 3-month premature baby? If you go back on that line, when on that line does this baby's life begin to have value?
Those of us who hold the sanctity of life, I think, would believe that, from the moment of conception, as a little embryo, that that small, tiny human being has value. We know that its blood type is different than its mother's. It couldn't receive a blood transfusion from its mother. It probably couldn't receive a skin graft from its mother. In fact, by about 9 to 10 weeks, 11 weeks, which is when most abortions are done, that little baby has its fingerprints that are completely unique from any other individual's ever born. It has dream patterns on its brain waves. It sucks its thumb. If you put a light intrautero, it will hold up its hand and will turn its head. It feels pain. It is a little, unique individual in a little life support system that is not very big, but it is certainly just as valuable as any other baby. That's why we speak up for these little ones who can't speak for themselves.
They are subject to the most gruesome, horrific procedure known to mankind. I remember the chairwoman of the Feminists for Life speaking to a group of us. She said abortion is the most violent form of death known to mankind and that abortion always has two victims--one dead, one wounded. One is the baby and one is the mother. She said an abortion breaks a woman's heart, and there are a lot of people who have suffered from this, and we need to do something about that.
I thought your illustration was really right on. It's a good way of illustrating why we're speaking up tonight for these little unborn children and for their moms.
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