HHS Confirmation Hearings: 49,000 Words, Zero on Abortion-Drug Mandate

Sylvia Mathews Burwell
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Sylvia Burwell confers with Sen. Tom Coburn (R.-Okla.) at her May 14 confirmation hearing in the Senate Finance Committee. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Two Senate committees held hearings this month on the nomination of Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell to succeed Kathleen Sebelius as secretary of Health and Human Services, the federal agency most responsible for overseeing implementation of Obamacare.

In these two hearings, according to transcripts published by CQ Transcriptions, the senators and the nominee spoke approximately 49,000 words. Not one of these words directly addressed the contraception-sterilization-abortion-inducing drug regulation that Sebelius issued under Obamacare and that is now the target of more than 90 lawsuits.

The closest anyone came was Republican Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, who told Burwell he was going to ask her a question in writing in “regard to abortion coverage transparency for insurance plans offered in the federal exchanges.”

The central question in the lawsuits filed against Sebelius is whether the federal government can force Americans into complicity with the taking of innocent human life by compelling them to buy or provide health insurance that covers abortion-inducing drugs.

Unless Burwell rescinds Sebelius’s regulation — which she will not — she will become the enforcer of the single-greatest attack on freedom of conscience in the history of the United States.

But for the Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee and on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee this was not an issue during Burwell’s confirmation hearings.

Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, testified in the Health committee in support of Burwell’s nomination.

“I recommend strongly Ms. Burwell and hope the committee will endorse her nomination,” McCain said.

Sen. Tom Coburn, once a leading advocate of limited government, testified in the Finance Committee on her behalf.

“I will support her nomination on the floor, and I will do everything to help her be successful at Homeland — at HHS, if she is so given that responsibility,” Coburn said.

After McCain endorsed Burwell in the Health committee, Sen. Bernie Sanders, the socialist from Vermont, got Burwell to endorse the rapid establishment of a single-payer health care system in his state.

“I believe in a Medicare for all single-payer system,” Sanders told Burwell.

“In that regard, in the ACA legislation, I put language in, supported strongly by Senator Harkin, that would give flexibility to states to move in different directions, including single-payer,” he said. “And as you know, the state of Vermont intends to do that.

“Right now, we can’t do that until 2017,” he said. “We have applied for a waiver. The president supports that waiver. Will you help the state of Vermont work with HHS to make sure that we can facilitate that process and give Vermont the opportunity to lead the nation in that direction?

Burwell did not tell Sanders that a single-payer health care system will deny Americans in Vermont the freedom of choice. She did not tell him it will make the Department of Veterans Affairs look like it is well-run. She told him: “Senator, if I am confirmed, I look forward to working on that issue with you and the state.”

Sen. Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat who chairs the Health committee, did ask Burwell about “the prevention title of the Affordable Care Act,” which he co-authored, and which is the part of the law under which Sebelius issued her abortion-drug mandate. But Harkin did not ask specifically about the abortion-inducing drug mandate. Instead he asked if she would “ensure that community-based prevention efforts are in the forefront of our nation’s health agenda.”

Burwell assured him she would. “I think we want to work in the federal system to promote prevention,” she said.

Harkin then elaborated on his Orwellian idea of what using “the federal system to promote prevention” means and how he envisioned Burwell’s role in that.

“I appreciate your commitment to that, and understanding that prevention is not just in the doctor’s office,” said Harkin. “It’s in schools. It’s in communities. It’s in workplaces. It’s in every aspects of our life that we have to address that. And as the secretary, you have the ability to reach in all of those, all those areas.”

She will also have the ability, under Sebelius’s abortion-drug mandate, to reach into the souls of Americans and attempt to force them to act against their consciences in complicity with taking of human life.

As the enforcer, Burwell will effectively tell Americans: Under Obamacare’s individual mandate, you must buy health insurance, and under our regulation, that insurance must cover abortion-inducing drugs.

In two Senate committees, not one senator had the moral courage to ask her where she gets the moral right to impose this kind of tyranny on the American people.

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