August 20th, 2009
10:20 AM ET
12 years ago

Religious leaders agree on abortion in health care reform debate

(CNN) - Rev. Jim Wallis, a progressive evangelical leader who sits on President Obama's advisory council on faith-based partnerships, and Tony Perkins, the president of conservative group the Family Research Council, expressed rare agreement Thursday about the role of abortion in the health care reform debate while appearing together on CNN's American Morning.

Perkins pointed out that Republicans had submitted a number of amendments to health care reform legislation that would prohibit federal funding of abortion.

"Tony, I will support your effort to make sure that abortion is taken off the table in this debate," Wallis told his conservative counterpart, "I'm for that. I'll work hard for that. Let's work together on that. And then you support our moral principle that all Americans should be covered by health care – secure, affordable, accessible health care. Let's work together and make sure that both of those things, in fact, are a part of comprehensive health care reform because the system is broken and we have to fix it. And, don't let abortion derail that effort, please."

"Well, ask the president, then, to take it off the table and accept these amendments," responded Perkins, "and then we can have a discussion on how we fix health care in this country, and I'll be glad to work with you on that because we agree - we need to fix health care in this country."

"We do, then let's do it together," Wallis said.

Filed under: Abortion • American Morning • Health care
soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. disgusted

    Uh, Perkins, it is not on the table. Quit with your little holier-than-thou games.

    August 20, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  2. Tony

    Ok so if I do this you will go agree that Health Care is a moral principle that all American should be covered. Wow! What a set up from the adminstration.

    I would say NO to Wallis and tell him to take that deal back to Washington. The Govt funded abortions can be won without giving in.

    NOBAMA will employ whoever and stoop to whatever level is needed to get his bill passed.

    August 20, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  3. Mississippi Mike

    Wallis knows that Christians won't stand for government subsidized abortions. Perkins was smart in agreeing to work on health care reform but intentionally did not agree to Wallis's proposal for socialized medicine. Good job Perkins!

    August 20, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  4. aware

    Obama is enslaving America! Playing the religious card is just another obfuscating manipulation of words! 🙁

    Wallis also obfuscates with his questionable ideology.

    This independent Rev., like most Americans, is all for reform but not for a goverment health care option in any form!

    August 20, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  5. Claudia in Houson

    Nobody cares what Republicans think anymore, they are useless and don't give a darn about anybody but themselves.

    August 20, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  6. katiec

    It appears Wallis was willing to negotiate, make concessions but did not see any responsible actions from Perkins.
    Am afraid it will be the typical right wing stance, all take, no give.
    How anyone cannot support the Health Care Reform our country so desperately needs is beyond me. And those who claim morality
    simply CANNOT continue to ignore, disregard the needs of the
    American people. Politics should not enter into it, but, unfortunately,
    it does.

    August 20, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  7. JuliaO

    Somehow, Tony Perkins didn't really sound all that excited to find common ground in the health care debate. One of the reasons I've drifted away from these so-called "compassionate conservatives" is that they seem to only really want to help people if it's no skin off their nose, or they get every little single thing they want. They're like spoiled toddlers.


    August 20, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  8. Lisa Winslow

    WOMEN'S HEALTH IS HEALTHCARE! No MAN has any right to tell a women what she can or cannot get HEALTHCARE for! SIT DOWN Mr Perkins!

    August 20, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  9. Bananarama Victim II: Electric Boogaloo

    All right, prove your religious beliefs are fact, perfect, or fit for law and then you may make that choice for everyone. Until then, everyone is promised the freedom of making those choices personally. Unless you'd like someone telling you what religion you must believe in, I would suggest not trying to push your beliefs to become law or practice for everyone else.

    Either we all choose or no one chooses. That's America and that's part of Freedom, like it or not.

    August 20, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  10. Alfred E. Neumann

    I wonder how many so called Christian leaders oppose the public option form of health care! They are specific on abortion being left out but they won't say OK to the public option.

    Shame on them.

    August 20, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  11. bob in LA

    The discussion Obama said he wanted back in March of 2008! Imagine where this sort of thing could lead if bothsides would stop playing politics and TALK!

    August 20, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  12. Phat Elvis

    I agree too– except when the life of the mother is in danger, or in cases of incest.

    Other than that, lets take abortion off the table, it its too contentious an issue to hold back health care for millions of americans.

    that may sound insensitive, but this is a case of the needs of the many outweighing the needs a the few.

    August 20, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  13. Rob

    I don't think the Federal Government should pay for elected abortions, but I think there ought to be an exception in the case of abuse/rape. A woman should not have to go through the pains of childbirth as the result of a sexual assault. That would be my only thing. But if some stupid 16 year old girl and her boyfriend get drunk and have sex and she gets pregnant, then absolutely she should pay for the abortion out of pocket – if that is what she decided to do.

    August 20, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  14. Kitchen Police

    Medicare for all now!!!

    August 20, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  15. Kevin B

    There was never federal funding of abortion under health care reform in any version of the bills making there way through congress.

    This rumor has been just another of the lies and deceit campaigns by the opponents of reform.

    However perhaps these gentlemen can talk some sense into either of thier extremes on this very important issue.

    August 20, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  16. Steve (the real one)

    A liberal agreeing to take abortion of the table concerning the health care reform debate? Imagine that! I guess anything is possible when you reall listen to what the other side is saying and take the emotion out of it and clearly LISTEN! Washington DC, are you LISTENING???

    August 20, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  17. TCM

    Obama is so smitten with himself, his own ego that he looks down his nose at God; therefore any ressemblance he's trying to encourage of a "Progressive evangelical leader," is again, another facade. It's all about winning the votes of the gullable....and his voter and supporter base is living proof of that.

    August 20, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  18. Get Real

    Since they feel that laws should be based on their religious teachings, I hope they will next start to work on starting up the movement to outlaw divorce -except for reasons of unfaithfulness – in America. After all, the Bible expressly says that what God has joined no man should put asunder and that anyone who divorces except for reasons of unfaithfulness is committing adultery. This means that people that divorce except for reasons of unfaithfulness are breaking one of the Ten Commandments and so they are equivalent to murderers!

    NO DIVORCE – the biggest threat to Marriage since...well...since ever!

    August 20, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  19. Brina

    There is NO abortion options on the table......

    August 20, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  20. No Incumbents 2010

    Perkins was lying through his teeth. The Repukes will oppose any reform even if the Dems capitulate to all of their demands. Repukes want to weaken health care reform so it is meaningless, then when it doen't work they will say "you see we were right the government can't do anything right".

    August 20, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  21. Tina

    Abortion is legal. If a woman chooses to have one the government cannot tell her not to just because of a health care bill. What happened to the argument about keeping the government out of health care decisions? The health care reform bill is not 'funding abortions.' This argument is twisting the facts – the government is trying to provide healthcare and since abortions are legal and a medical issue between a woman and her doctor, that is part of providing healthcare. If you believe it is wrong then feel free to voice your opinion, but leave the separation between church and state intact.

    August 20, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  22. ThinkAgain

    By asking for abortion funding to be removed from health care reform, these religious leaders are asking their religious faith to trump our nation's law (Roe v. Wade).

    The First Amendment of the Constitution, which includes the establishment clause ("Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion"), expressly prohibits our government from this kind of mixing of politics with religion.

    If a person doesn't want an abortion (a legitimate medical procedure), they should not seek it out. If a law-abiding citizen seeks an abortion, it should be funded.

    August 20, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  23. Jesus Francisco

    Tony Perkins is such a "sham" ... don't let women get abortions, but then deny the baby healthcare! What kind of Christian is this creep?!!

    August 20, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  24. Deuce

    To think CNN. I used to think so much about the USA. Untill just one year ago. Now I hope you go the same way of Russia. You gamled with the worlds securiy electing Obama. He has caulsed all kinds orf problems in just six months. But you still live in denial..

    August 20, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  25. Jack

    Nice job guys.

    August 20, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
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