WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Family Research Council is launching a television ad attacking a public health insurance option as a plan that will shortchange seniors and increase access to abortion, as social and religious conservatives ramp up a pushback against President Obama's health care reform package.
The group said it plans to buy air time in five states with moderate Democratic senators, most of whom are considered possible swing votes on health care: Pennsylvania (Arlen Specter and pro-life Bob Casey), Arkansas (Blanche Lincoln), Alaska (Mark Begich), Louisiana (Mary Landrieu), and Nebraska (Ben Nelson).
In the ad, an elderly couple is shown sitting at their kitchen table. "And to think that Planned Parenthood is included in the government-run health care plan and spending tax dollars on abortions," a man says to his wife. "They won't pay for our surgery, but we are forced to pay for our abortions."
The voice-over tag line: "Our greatest generation denied care. Our future generation denied life. Call your senator. Stop the government takeover of health care."
The current bill does not contain any provision for taxpayer-funded abortions. Instead, the current House version of the package would create a panel that would weigh what procedures might be covered - an approach White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has said is the best way to take on the issue. Gibbs told reporters earlier this month that when it came to abortion - or other, less controversial coverage questions - it was "better left to experts in the medical field to determine how best and what procedures to cover."
President Obama has largely tried to steer clear of the thorny debate, but has acknowledged the concerns of abortion opponents. "I'm pro-choice, but I think we also have the tradition in this town, historically, of not financing abortions as part of government-funded healthcare," he told CBS News last week. "My main focus is making sure that people have options of high-quality care at the lowest possible price."
The administration's hands-off approach has not been enough for abortion foes, who say that in the absence of language explicitly prohibiting the use of taxpayer dollars, the procedure will be included in a government-run health care plan - a development which would have to be squared with the Hyde amendment, which bars the use of federal funds to pay for abortion services. So far, efforts to insert that prohibition into the plan being considered by Congress, including a push last month by a group of House Democrats, have been unsuccessful.