Speaking on the House floor yesterday, Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) argued that low-income mothers of African-Americans — like President Barack Obama and Justice Clarence Thomas — would have aborted their children, if only the government had agreed to pay for it. To audible boos from his House colleagues, Tiahrt stated:
If you think of it in human terms, there is a financial incentive that would be put in place, paid for by tax dollars, that would encourage…single parents, living below the poverty level, to have the opportunity for a free abortion. If you take that scenario and apply it to many of the great minds we have today, who would we have been deprived of? Our President grew up in those similar circumstances. If that financial incentive was in place, is it possible that his mother might have taken advantage of it? Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court Justice, if those circumstances were in place, is it possible that we’d have been denied his great mind?
Setting aside Tiahrt’s questionable decision to list only African-Americans as candidates for retroactive abortion, Tiahrt also makes the misleading claim that “70% of Americans oppose using public funds for abortions.” In reality, current law allows Americans to pay for abortion through their health plans, and a recent poll shows that 71% of the country supports maintaining the status quo by permitting a public plan to cover reproductive services. Nevertheless, many Republicans are pushing a poison pill amendment that would forbid any plan offered within a national health insurance exchange from providing coverage for abortion services.