White House officials met with an anti-abortion advocate Thursday afternoon to discuss concern over abortion coverage in health care reform proposals, and even though Dr. Chairmaine Yoest, the President and CEO of Americans United for Life Action (AUL), said the meeting went well, she also said the White House was non-committal on the issue.
“The challenge for the pro-life community is that unless he (President Obama) gets behind explicit language, it’s still going to be a problem,” Yoest said to Fox after the meeting. “We wanted the meeting to have a dialogue.” But, Yoest says in her opinion, there are still issues the White House has to overcome. She cites various amendments in both the House and Senate versions of the legislation which would address the issues of AUL.“We left a legal brief with at least five or six amendments listed that have been voted down on the House side and four on the Senate side,” Yoest said.
In his address to Congress last week, President Obama took the controversy over abortion funding in health care reform head on. "And one more misunderstanding I want to clear up," he said, "-- under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place."
But AUL believes that unless abortion coverage is explicitly excluded from any legislation, the courts will authorize the funding. Yoest said the group would be pleased if something “like the Hyde amendment” were introduced into the legislation. The Hyde amendment, named for Henry Hyde, the late pro-life Republican from Illinois, bars the use of federal funds for abortions. “This is an end-run around Hyde,” Yoest told Fox, pointing to language the group says is currently in some of the legislation which would not prevent administrative agencies or the courts from mandating abortion funding and coverage.
Yoest met with Domestic Policy Advisor Melody Barnes, Joshua DuBois, Director of Faith Based & Neighborhood Partnerships and Tina Tchen, Director for Public Liaison.
She is a former senior advisor to the 2008 Huckabee for President campaign.
- Daniela Sicuranza and Eve Zibel both contributed to this report.