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Franzonello: Abortion Was Always Heart of Health Care Overhaul

In 2008, candidate Barack Obama made a campaign promise to put abortion at “the heart” of any health care plan his administration would propose. President Barack Obama is making good on this promise.

Through a mandate issued by the Department of Health and Human Services, nearly all private insurance plans must fully cover the abortion-inducing drug ella.

But instead of listening to the people (or the Constitution) and abandoning the ill-advised mandate, the Obama administration and HHS seek to blunt the criticism, in part by claiming they are merely following the “marching orders” given by the “independent Institute of Medicine”  — the organization tasked with advising HHS on what should be included as “preventive services” in the mandate. In other words, HHS is claiming the allegedly independent and unbiased IOM made it include life-ending drugs in the mandate.

Considering the breadth of this anti-life mandate, which applies to nearly all insurance plans and eliminates life-affirming choices from the market, it is important to examine the IOM panel, whose recommendation HHS feels so obliged to follow.

Independent? Maybe.

Unbiased? Hardly.

The biographies of the committee members convened by the IOM to make a recommendation to HHS on what constitutes “preventive services” reads like a “who’s who” of the abortion lobby. While perhaps independent from HHS, the IOM panel has deep connections to the abortion industry and its anti-life ideology.

The groups that the IOM panel invited to present testimony to help the IOM make its “evidence-based” determination likewise had a clear abortion bias.

At the first IOM meeting, Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, represented “women’s issues,” along with other abortion-advocacy groups. As a distributor of contraceptives and life-ending drugs, Planned Parenthood stands to gain if insurance plans are required to fully cover the drugs and devices it dispenses. Of course, that financial stake was never disclosed as a conflict of interest. Rather, Planned Parenthood’s Dr. Carolyn Westhoff bluntly started her presentation by saying: “I’m just going to jump ahead — pregnancy is dangerous.”

Though the deck seemed stacked from the beginning, pro-life groups still mounted an effort to keep coverage for life-ending drugs and devices from being forced on nearly all Americans perversely under the guise of necessary “preventive” health care for women.

Never formally invited by the IOM to present, pro-life organizations — including Americans United for Life — attended and spoke up during the public comments portion of every open IOM committee meeting to urge the panel against including life-ending drugs and devices in the mandate.

At every meeting, the IOM panel was reminded by AUL and others that the “preventive services” provision was, as its author Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) stated, “strictly concerned” with “preventing diseases.”

Further, the IOM panel was reminded that Mikulski made assurances on the Senate floor that, under her provision, abortion would not be covered “in any way.”

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