Capitol Hill: Protesters gathered in the rain Wednesday morning to speak against the “abortion mandate” in President Obama’s health care bill. Lead by Randall Terry, conservative activist and founder of Operation RescueInsurrecta Nex, the group dressed in Grim Reaper and “Scream” costumes holding axes and posters that read: “Killing the Pre-Borns is Not Health Care.”
The group began its two-week protest series in Washington by preaching to government employees at all entrances of the Cannon Office Building. Terry and other anti-abortion activists toured 10 different U.S. cities asking people to tell their representatives to vote against the health care bill.
Terry said they plan to rally in front of a different government building every day for two weeks, followed by protests at The White House.
“They’re going to be trying to push health care on us intensely,” said Terry regarding Obama’s upcoming speech to Congress Wednesday night. “I’m not a socialist, so I think the whole bill should be killed.”
Complete with plastic baby dolls, fake syringes, and R.I.P tablets, the group performed a skit where elderly citizens and mothers passed through the “death panel” and were rejected health care. The Obama character then sentenced them to death while the doctor provided euthanasia shots. Terry chanted, “Obama gives, Obama takes away” through the duration of the skit.
Although the street theater attracted an audience, bystanders said the skit was frightening and extreme.
“Definitely the Grim Reaper I think is a little overboard,” said Lajoya Reed, a bystander from Dayton, Ohio, after hearing Dracula laughs. “I see why they did it, but it’s kind of creepy. It is definitely catching.”
“It’s inciting fear. They’re trying to make people afraid,” said D.C. resident Kevin Porter while watching the skit. “This guy isn’t even showing his face. It’s ridiculous.”
The National Abortion Federation says that currently, U.S. law bars federal Medicaid dollars from being used to pay for abortions except in emergency situations or rape. Anti-abortion activists, however, fear that the policy will change under the new health care bill.
Missy Smith, a protest coordinator and founder of Women Against the Killing and Exploitation of Unprotected Persons, said their mission is to block the portion of the bill dealing with federally funded abortion. Anti-abortion activists question the “vague wording” of HR 3200 or the Capps-Waxman Amendment, saying it would allow reproductive health insurance.
“Child killing is what we’re focused on, so that’s why we’re here. Obama is the greatest promoter of child killing in the world,” said Smith.
President Obama has repeatedly denied that the health care bill would permit federally funded abortions. An opinion piece in Friday’s Los Angeles Times said the health care bill would in fact force private insurers to consider funding abortions rather than the public plan. U.S. News and World Report also said the Capps Amendment would prohibit federal money from funding abortions because the public option “must abide by the same rules as the private plans offered through the proposed health insurance exchange.”
However, conservative organizations like The National Right to Life Committee say the Capps-Waxman Amendment explicitly authorizes the government plan to cover all elective abortions. Diana Roccogradi, founder of Christian group Sacrifices for Life, voiced skepticism.
“Every time they’ve been asked [to add an anti-abortion clause], they’ve refused. I don’t trust he [Obama] will be honest about what his intentions are for the bill,” said Roccogradi.
Not all protesters shared Terry’s opinion that the entire bill should be terminated. Protestor Francis Mahoney calls himself a life-Democrat, saying that some anti-abortion protesters want health care change.
“I’m in favor of health care reform, but I’m extremely opposed to using my tax money for the killing of unborn Americans. It’s like stabbing a dagger at the heart of America,” said Mahoney.
The group will make its way to the White House for more rallying up until Obama’s speech to Congressmen tonight.