Catholics United “Condemns” Family Research Council Ads as Misleading

In a press release today, Catholics United strongly condemns "a new television attack ad campaign by the Family Research Council’s FRC Action lobbying operation that misinforms the U.S. public about health care reform." 

The Family Research Council’s efforts are part of a broader “Stop the Abortion Mandate” campaign that is using abortion scare tactics to turn pro-life voters against health reform.

FRC’s ad, “After a Government Takeover,” includes actors playing a husband and wife, and as reported earlier on RH Reality Check, claims that draft health reform proposals now being debated would provide public funding for abortions.

However, as CU notes in its release, and as has also been widely reported here, by and elsewhere:

Currently, no health care bill contains any reference to abortion, let alone a mandate for public funding of abortion.  In a rebuttal to the attack ad, notes that “the current bill does not contain any provision for taxpayer-funded abortions.”

[See also this article on RH Reality Check today by Jessica Arons of the Center for American Progress and this piece by Brady Swenson of RH Reality Check.]

“Either the Family Research Council is seriously misinformed, or it is intentionally distorting the truth in order to derail health care reform,” said Chris Korzen, executive director of Catholics United. 

“If the Family Research Council was truly committed to human life it would focus its efforts on ensuring that the tens of millions of Americans who currently lack heath insurance can get the care they need.  This attack ad is unhelpful, untruthful, and not at all pro-life.”

"The actions of the Family Research Council and the ‘Stop the Abortion Mandate’ campaign pose perhaps the single greatest threat to the passage of health care reform,” said Korzen.  “We urge them to do the right thing and suspend these efforts immediately.”

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  • brianh

    I have a slight correction:
    "Hypocritical members of the Catholic Church who seek to use the Catholic name to affect political change contrary to Catholic teaching strongly condemn organizations that speak out against policies that would divert hundreds of millions of tax dollars to abortion providing organizations thus freeing up for those organizations hundreds of milliions of dollars that can be directed towards proving abortions."

  • invalid-0

    Oh, my; somebody bought the FRC’s LIES hook, line, and sinker, didn’t it?

  • paul-bradford

    Once again, we have a situation where right-wingers who have little regard for honest discourse are manufacturing reasons to oppose much needed Health Care Reform.


    Nobody’s going to be able to ‘sneak in’ money for abortions in this plan.  Pro-Lifers who are truly Pro-Life (and, thus, Pro-Health) won’t allow the bill to include money for abortions and Democrats who are eager to get the bill passed are not going to make an issue of the matter.  Obama needs to build a majority coalition to support Health Care Reform.  He’s got all the Pro-Choice votes he needs anyway so he’s not going to bend over backwards for their issues. 


    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice


    P.S. Catholics United rocks! 

  • noworsethanusual

    I was writing on this subject earlier today, for a different thread, trying to figure out where this idea got started that the health care reform President Obama backs would pay for abortions. I mean, where did these right wingers come up with this notion? It seems that some of it goes back to when Barack Obama appeared before the Planned Parenthood Action Fund in 2007, and said, "Well, look, in my mind reproductive care is essential care, basic care so it is at the center, the heart of the plan that I propose . . . insurers are going to have to abide by the same rules in terms of providing comprehensive care, including reproductive care . . . that’s going to be absolutely vital."


    Then there was that much-publicized document, "Advancing Reproductive Rights and Health in a New Administration" that was sent to the Obama Transition Team not long after the election, which the Transition posted on the Internet. It said about health care reform, “Comprehensive benefits must include access to the full range of reproductive health services, including contraception, maternity care, and abortion care.” The antis tried to read some significance into that, just because the paper was signed by Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and 60 or so other pro-choice groups.


    Then in April the president of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards, went on National Public Radio and said that the health care reform bill would provide a "platform" to extend access to abortion to "all women and families."
    Next, the National Abortion Federation put out a position paper that said, "NAF supports health care reform as a way to increase access to comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion care, for all women." The president of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, the Rev. Carlton W. Veazey, sent out an e-mail promoting the legislation, in which he said, "Let there be no mistake, basic healthcare includes abortion services." And a few weeks ago, NARAL Pro-Choice America President Nancy Keenan said, "If, indeed, we can advance a panel or commission, then I am very optimistic about reproductive health care being part of this entire package." 


    So now when I read Mr. Korzen from Catholics United say that the bill would not result in funding abortions — well, it is confusing. In Korzen’s press release, he asserts that President Obama said, in a July 21 interview with Katie Couric, that "the government should continue to uphold a tradition of ‘not financing abortions as part of government funded health care.’" But anybody can watch the interview or read the transcript and see that Mr. Obama did not say that at all — Obama did not say that the "tradition" should be upheld, he just observed that it existed. Nor did he say whether the bill would pay for abortions; he ducked the question. Speaker Pelosi was beyond evasive, when John King of CNN asked her the same question — watch the video. Something does not add up here.

  • jodi-jacobson

    The point being that the majority of women with private insurance in the United States HAVE coverage for abortion care. Right now. If you provide greater access to existing plans for a larger number of people, than more women will have access to comprehensive coverage—for ALL their basic health needs, which in the case of women includes comprehensive reproductive health care.

    This is a different issue than what the government will pay for.  See this article on RH Reality Check today.

    You are confusing the issues between making all plans more affordable, and private plans including what they already do, and what the government pays for.



  • noworsethanusual

    Well, the FRC ad that is being criticized IS about federal subsidies for insurance plans that cover abortions.


    You say, "the majority of women with private insurance in the United States HAVE coverage for abortion care."  But I poked around on the "National Right to Life" website, and they have a paper up about the bill that claims that Kathleen Sebelius told the Senate in writing, when she was up for confirmation as Secretary of Health and Human Services in April, “Most private plans do not cover abortion services except in limited instances, but do cover family planning, and Congress has limited the Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan to covering abortion services only in cases of rape or incest, or when the life of the mother is in danger.”  She said, "do not."  It seems that Sebelius is saying exactly the opposite of what you are saying. Why is that?

    The same paper quotes Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, the insurance industry’s trade association," in "CQ Today" (whatever that is), July 15, 2009, saying that "Most people with employer-sponsored insurance also must pay for abortions out of their own pocket. ‘Most insurers offer plans that include this coverage, but most employers choose not to offer it as part of their benefits package,’" he said. It seems like he is saying the same thing as Sebelius.   So maybe I am the one that is confused, but maybe not.

  • jodi-jacobson

    Published here the other day which includes data from Guttmacher Institute and Kaiser Family Foundation surveys on who has coverage for abortion care. It further includes information on a recent survey in which the majority of people underscore quite clearly they do not want the government deciding who should get coverage for what reproductive health services…..

    See also this article published today which as far as i am concerned the clearest piece on this issue.


    Best wishes,



  • noworsethanusual

    Thank you for linking those items.  The first reports on how Tina
    Tchen, the director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, called on 400 pro-choice activists to stir up their grassroots networks to lobby Congress to keep coverage of abortion in the pending healthcare reform bill.  Which is a little confusing, because this thread started with an item about the so-called "Family Research Council" being criticized for claiming that the bill includes abortion in government-subsidized plans.  It almost looks like Tchen is urging people to gear up to defend the very provisions that the FRC is objecting to.  If so, that is a disagreement about policy, but not any form of misrepresentation by the FRC.  It is very confusing to try to sort this out.   The second article is a little more complicated and I will have to take some time to digest it.

  • jodi-jacobson

    The majority of women with private insurance have coverage for abortion care.
    the government may subsidize a partial amount of the coverage for a share of those who need coverage but do not have it. they may buy that coverage from private plans.

    in those cases, FRC and others want to eliminate coverage of abortion care from PRIVATE PLANS, which is why Tina Tchen and others are alerting women that the coverage they NOW have is endanger.

    There is NO language in any bill either to mandate coverage of abortion care or to have the federal government pay for care outside the circumstances in which ostensibly the governemnt now does…rape, incest, life and health of the mother.

    FRC claims that the government will be paying for abortions. It will not.  At the same time, no one wants and the majority do not believe the government should be determining what kinds of coverage they can buy under their own private plans, nor do they wan their CURRENT coverage under private plans taken away. This is what the grassroots acitons are about.



  • crowepps

    My understanding is that the "public option" is not a single-payer system where the government directly pays the providers for health care as is done for very low income people on Medicaid, that instead those over that threshold who can’t afford to pay in full for their own insurance will get a government SUBSIDY to make up the difference.


    I would assume there would be a sliding scale, so that those with the lowest incomes would self-pay perhaps 10%, those with more 25%, those better off 50%, etc., until their income is high enough that they can paid the entire premium themselves.


    If this is accurate, why is the assumption made that the person’s reproductive care is covered by the part of their insurance premium that the government covers? What if the person pays 90% of their own premium and only gets a subsidy of 10%? Is that 10% going to control the entirety of their care based on the ‘not one penny of my taxes should ever be used’ argument? Does having a government subsidy ‘contaminate’ the entire premium so that the portion which the person paid out of their own private funds can’t be used unless the specifics of their care has been approved by every single taxpayer in the country?


    40% of Americans don’t even pay any federal income tax and I sure don’t see why THEIR personal and/or religious opinion should be binding on someone who is actually paying most of their own premium out of pocket. It would be interesting to see what the percentages would be in favor and opposed on this and other issues if they polled only the people who DO pay taxes and excluded those who are tax money consumers (recipients of various income redistribution credits) or those who have retired and are living on Social Security.


    In addition, I don’t think people are aware of many other ‘subsidies’ already being funded by tax dollars with little controversy: government subsidies to individuals are provided for hybrid vehicles, replacing a clunker car, solar water heaters, charitable donations, owning a house and a vacation house and for retrofitting energy efficiency in those houses.


    Has anyone called for banning abortions for those who drive one of those subsidized vehicles or who lives in a home purchased with a federally guaranteed mortgage/upgraded with energy efficiency grants?  Does anyone want to try to enforce a requirement that students who receive PELL grants abstain from sex?

  • invalid-0

    thanks for the article and links

  • benatmediacurves just conducted a study with 605 viewers of an anti health care
    reform ad by the Family Research Council (FRC).
    The results showed the all parties
    reported that "anger" was the emotion they felt most while watching
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    The study also revealed that 64% of Democrats, 81% of Republicans and 71%
    of Independents indicating that the ad was either extremely effective or
    somewhat effective
    . For more in-depth results, please visit