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Christianity TodayNovember (Web-only) 2009



Will Abortion Derail Health Care Reform?
The Senate moves closer to a vote on health care reform, groups argue over presidential appointments, and the Family Research Council issues a correction.

Sojourners: "Don't Walk Away!"

When the House voted to ban abortion funding in the health care bill, most Christian advocacy groups reacted swiftly with cheers. Sojourners did not join them. This week, Sojourners' founder Jim Wallis finally broke the silence in a letter nearly as long as the legislation itself.

His message: Don't let abortion disagreements "derail and sabotage" health care reform.

For Wallis, the infusion of abortion politics into the health care debate is a problem that could have—and should have—been avoided. He preferred an "abortion neutral" bill that would leave the interpretation of the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding of abortion, for the courts to sort out.

Wallis called on both pro-life and pro-choice groups to continue work on a compromise.

"Either make an agreement or live with the outcome of the vote. But don't walk away!" he said. "Health-care reform is fundamentally an issue of social and economic justice—one of the most critical moral issues of our time, and itself an issue of 'life.'"

Many other advocacy groups remain opposed to any compromise.

"The House-passed pro-life amendment is crucial in the pro-life effort to prevent federal funding of abortion in health care," said Doug Carlson of the Ethics & Religious Liberties Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention. "As the focus shifts to the Senate, pro-lifers must insist on an explicit ban on abortion coverage."

"[Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid seeks to cover elective abortions in two big new federal health programs, but tries to conceal that unpopular reality with layers of contrived definitions and hollow bookkeeping requirements," said the NRLC.

Focus on the Family Action sent an action alert asking members ...

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