The Common Good

Religious leaders agree on abortion in health care reform debate

Date: August 20, 2009

Rev. Jim Wallis, a progressive evangelical leader who sits on President Obama's advisory council on faith-based partnerships, and Tony Perkins, the president of conservative group the Family Research Council, expressed rare agreement Thursday about the role of abortion in the health care reform debate while appearing together on CNN's American Morning.

Perkins pointed out that Republicans had submitted a number of amendments to health care reform legislation that would prohibit federal funding of abortion.

"Tony, I will support your effort to make sure that abortion is taken off the table in this debate," Wallis told his conservative counterpart, "I'm for that. I'll work hard for that. Let's work together on that. And then you support our moral principle that all Americans should be covered by health care – secure, affordable, accessible health care. Let's work together and make sure that both of those things, in fact, are a part of comprehensive health care reform because the system is broken and we have to fix it. And, don't let abortion derail that effort, please."

"Well, ask the president, then, to take it off the table and accept these amendments," responded Perkins, "and then we can have a discussion on how we fix health care in this country, and I'll be glad to work with you on that because we agree — we need to fix health care in this country."

"We do, then let's do it together," Wallis said.