Congressman Floats Total Ban on Abortion Funding, Hyde Amendment Plus More
by Steven Ertelt
July 22, 2010
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — When it comes to taxpayer funding of abortions from the federal government, pro-life advocates have to wage a set of battles annually to ensure abortion funding isn’t present in various funding bills — from HHS and USAID to health care and the District of Columbia.
What if all of the provisions against abortion funding could be rolled into one piece of legislation ensuring the federal government is not funding elective abortions?
That was the question Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey, the chairman of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, asked himself.
He’s answered it with a new bill titled the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act that he will introduce next Thursday to establish a consistent government-wide prohibition on abortion funding.
"For over 30 years, a patchwork of policies has regulated federal funding for abortion. Together these various policies ensure that the American taxpayer is not involved in funding the destruction of innocent human life through abortion on demand," Smith said in a letter to colleagues today that LifeNews.com obtained.
"This comprehensive approach will reduce the need for the numerous separate abortion funding policies and ensure that no program or agency is exempt from this important safeguard," he added.
"This new legislation will make permanent the policies that currently rely on regular re-approval," Smith said.
Under current law, funding for abortion and abortion coverage is prohibited through a patchwork of policies, most of which must be annually reapproved in Appropriations bills. The “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” will reduce the need for numerous separate abortion funding policies and ensure that no program or agency is exempt from this important safeguard.
The bill essentially could be called a Hyde Amendment Plus, as it wraps together the Hyde Amendment, related to programs funded through the HHS appropriations, along with the Helms amendment, which applies to overseas programs, the Smith FEHBP amendment to stop abortion funding in federal employee health insurance programs, the Dornan amendment prohibiting abortion funding in the District of Columbia, and other policies governing programs such as the Peace Corp and federal prisons.
The beauty of the new bill is also seen in the fact that it will make these policies banning abortion funding in various situations permanents federal law instead of annual battles that pro-life advocates sometimes lose depending on who controls Congress and the White House.
Only an act of Congress to reverse the law would reinstate the abortion funding.
The new comprehensive abortion funding ban will also apply to the new national health care program President Barack Obama signed into law.
And it would codify the conscience clause known as Hyde-Weldon offering protections for medical workers who refuse to participate in abortions — something Smith told his fellow members of Congress is important.
"The conscience clause ensures that recipients of federal funding do not discriminate against health care providers, including doctors, nurses and hospitals, because the providers do not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions," he said.
To become original co-sponsors of the new legislation, members of Congress must sign on to the bill by July 29.
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