WASHINGTON—Vice President Mike Pence took his first meeting with the House Pro-Life Caucus Monday evening. It was a bit like a reunion since some of the Caucus members were his closest allies in past years. During his 2001-13 tenure as a congressman from Indiana, Pence was a leading advocate on Capitol Hill against abortion.
A former staffer of the Caucus explained that its members had been seeking this meeting since the Trump/Pence ticket won the election in November.
Top Topic? Repeal & Replace
But the new health care plan is the hot topic in D.C. these days and so it was here. A statement from Pence's office said, "The Vice President today met with Chairman Chris Smith and members of the House Pro-Life Caucus to discuss the American Health Care Act and President Trump's commitment to repealing and replacing Obamacare with a health care system that actually works."
Obamacare put abortion support front and center, something the Pro-Life Caucus definitely wants to see reversed in the new health care plan. And one of the most offensive things for pro-lifers about Obamacare was that it presented hundreds of plans that would pay for abortion. That was despite the Hyde Amendment being passed every year in Congress since the late 1970s, an amendment that specifically forbids the government directly or indirectly funding abortions.
The statement issued by Pence's office after the meeting said clearly that the new health care bill, "Includes protections against taxpayer funding being used for abortions."
It also pointed out, "The National Right to Life Committee last week endorsed the American Health Care Act for 'restoring the lonstanding principles of the Hyde Amendment with respect to federally funded health coverage.'
Pence came to the meeting with the very latest news about that still-evolving American Health Care Act, having just met earlier in the day with Health & Human Services Secretary Tom Price and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, one of the most prominent advocates for the Obamacare replacement.
The House of Representatives may try voting on the new plan as soon as this Thursday, which just happens to be the seventh anniversary of Obamacare's passage into law. But House Pro-Life Caucus member Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C., says the bill's shapers are still taking input and advice from people.
Rep. Pittenger, R-North Carolina, talks about his major goal at Monday's meeting.
"I'll be at the White House tomorrow for a meeting with the vice president, and there's input right now being given," Pittenger told MSNBC this weekend.
"But at the end of the day I think we're going to come together and pass a great health bill that will allow individuals to take over their health care again and take it out of government mandates."
Offensive Obamacare Mandates
Other Obamacare mandates were particularly offensive to Pro-Life Caucus members and other abortion opponents across the country. One of those mandates forced even pro-life business owners and nuns, like the Little Sisters of the Poor, to cover abortifacient contraceptive purchases through their health plans.
Owners of Hobby Lobby took the battle all the way to a victory in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Another offense to pro-lifers: taxpayer funding of more than $500,000,000 a year to Planned Parenthood, the biggest abortion-provider in the land. It kills more than 320,000 unborn babies a year, a third of those put to death in America.
Pro-Lifers Hope They're All on The Same Page
Pro-life advocacy groups tell CBN News they hope Caucus lawmakers who met with the vice president conveyed the same message these advocacy groups have in earlier meetings with Pence and Price.
As one advocate put it, "Defunding Planned Parenthood and making sure the abortion industry gets no money through the 'replace Obamacare' plan are essential to pro-life support of the bill."
Representative Pittenger had reassuring words for them before the meeting.
In a statement to CBN News, he said, "At today's meeting with Vice President Pence, we will review the legislative process to ensure pro-life issues are protected and no taxpayer funding is available for abortions."
According to the statement from Pence's office, "At the conclusion of the meeting, Vice President Pence reaffirmed his and President Trump's ongoing commitment to protecting the lives of the unborn."