Did President Obama Mislead the Holy Father?

In the late afternoon of July 10, President Obama met privately with Pope Benedict XVI for just over 30 minutes. According to official Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi, S.J., “The president explicitly expressed his commitment to reducing the numbers of abortions and to listen to the church’s concern on moral issues.”

On July 13 in a Senate committee hearing, Sen. Barbara Mikulski was forced to admit under persistent questioning by Sen. Orrin Hatch that the new health-care bill includes abortion coverage. Planned Parenthood’s Guttmacher Institute estimates government funding of abortion increases abortion by 20 to 35 percent.

There were 1,206,200 abortions in 2006, according to National Right Life (the last annual results available). The math is easy: If the heath-care package currently being pushed by Obama is passed, the result will be 240,000 to 420,000 more abortions in the first year alone.

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Did President Obama know these abortion provisions were in the Senate health-care bill when he met with the Holy Father? There is no reason to think he didn’t. He certainly knew he had gone on the record supporting federal funding for abortion in the District of Columbia.

If President Obama is honest with himself, he must admit to misleading Benedict at their meeting.

Obama apologists will immediately defend the president by arguing that his plan is about reducing the need for abortion. Melody Barnes, director of the Domestic Policy Council, revealed this as the Obama administration’s real aim last May under questioning from Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America.

It’s a weak defense. Those 240,000 to 420,000 additional abortions are a near certainty. Meanwhile, the number of abortions eliminated by direct assistance to poor mothers, sex education, increased contraception, and adoption programs are unknown, and projections are highly speculative.

In fact, the new health-care bill’s impact on the unborn will be so great that some are calling it the “silent FOCA.” Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Rep. Chris Smith said, “Obamacare is the greatest threat ever to the lives and wellness of unborn children and their mothers since Roe v. Wade was rendered in 1973.”

Some Catholic supporters of Obama are urging Senate Democrats to take the abortion provisions out of the health-care package. On America magazine’s group blog, Michael Sean Winters wrote, “We should, however, be letting our congressional representatives and senators know that providing federal funds for abortion is a deal-breaker.”

Even more surprising is a snippet that Jill Stanek posted from Hardball. Chris Matthews, a Catholic Obama enthusiast, insisted that including abortion services in the health bill is “the last thing Obama needs. The issue’s complicated and divisive and controversial enough without bringing abortion into it.”

But then Matthews adds the kicker:

He goes over to see the pope and says they’re going to reduce the number of abortions, and then that same week he pushes to subsidize abortion? You can’t do that!

“You can’t do that!” will be exactly the reaction of most of America’s Catholics when they realize their president looked Benedict in the eye and said he was committed to reducing abortion, knowing all the while just what was in his health-care bill.

This is not just about the abortion issue anymore. It’s about basic respect and honesty.


  • Deal W. Hudson

    Deal W. Hudson is ​publisher and editor of The Christian Review and the host of “Church and Culture,” a weekly two-hour radio show on the Ave Maria Radio Network.​ He is the former publisher and editor of Crisis Magazine.

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