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Rape Language Dropped From Bill Banning Tax-Funded Abortions

by Steven Ertelt | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 2/3/11 12:52 PM

National

Language that pro-abortion advocates misconstrued as weak on the issue of rape has been dropped from a bill pro-life groups are strongly supporting that would ban federal taxpayer funding of abortion.

HR 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, rolls several federal rules that have to be passed annually to prevent taxpayer funding of abortions in various governmental departments and programs into one permanent federal law. It would also remove any concerns from the Obamacare law that it could somehow be used to finance abortions with federal funds.

But NARAL, Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion activists claim the bill, by changing the rape exception language to include “forcible rape” suddenly attacks women victimized by rape.

Douglas Johnson, the legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, explained to LifeNews.com that that’s not the case, and said the bill “would codify the substance of the policy that was in place from 1993 on” when Congress added rape and incest exceptions to the Hyde Amendment for lack of votes of keeping abortion funding limited to life of the mother only,

Now, because pro-abortion activists have inundated Capitol Hill with calls about the false claims, a spokesman for Rep. Chris Smith, told Politico the language will be changed to that in the Hyde Amendment, which has not prompted attacks from pro-abortion groups. Smith spokesman Jeff Sagnip said the “forcible” modifier will be dropped so all women who are victims of forcible or statutory rape are covered under the bill.

“The word forcible will be replaced with the original language from the Hyde Amendment,” he said about what will take place at the hearing the bill is slated to receive next week.

In his explanation responding to the pro-abortion claims, Johnson told LifeNews.com yesterday: “We do not believe that the Hyde Amendment has ever been construed to permit federal funding of abortion based merely on the youth of the mother (“statutory rape”), nor are we aware of evidence that federal funding of abortion in such cases has ever been the practice. It is true that the new bills would not allow general federal funding of abortion on all under-age pregnant girls — but this is no change in policy.”

“In falsely claiming that it is a change in policy, the pro-abortion advocacy groups really are engaged in a brazen effort greatly expand federal funding for abortion.  They want to federally fund the abortion of tens of thousands of healthy babies of healthy moms, based solely on the age of their mothers,” Johnson added. “We would oppose such an expansion of federal funding of abortion.”

Johnson also said the longstanding FBI definition of “forcible rape” explicitly excludes statutory rape.

Previously, Rep. Daniel Lipinski of Illinois, a pro-life Democrat who is the co-sponsor of the bill with Smith, sent a statement to The Raw Story web site, saying there was never any intent to hurt rape victims.

“The Hyde Amendment allows for taxpayer funding of abortion in very limited cases, including if the pregnancy is the result of rape. The language of H.R. 3 was not intended to change existing law regarding taxpayer funding for abortion in cases of rape, nor is it expected that it would do so. Nonetheless, the legislative process will provide an opportunity to clarify this should such a need exist,” he said.

House Speaker John Boehner and a bipartisan group of pro-life members of Congress held a press conference earlier this month to officially launch the campaign for the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act and other pro-life bills. http://www.lifenews.com/2011/01/20/boehner-pro-life-advocates-launch-bills-to-ban-tax-funded-abortions/

Smith said his bill will “eliminate the need for numerous, separate, annual abortion funding prohibitions (riders) and ensure that no other program or agency is exempt from this important safeguard. The bill also codifies the conscience clause known as Hyde-Weldon.” Smith said President Barack Obama has called for abortions to be rare and noted that the Guttmacher Institute, the pro-abortion former arm of Planned Parenthood, has noted that taxpayer funding of abortions increases the number of abortions done annually.

Boehner said, “Today we’re here to talk about keeping another commitment to the people – and that is ensuring their tax dollars are never used to fund abortions.”

“A ban on taxpayer funding of abortion is the will of the people and ought to be the law of the land.  But current law – particularly as enforced by this Administration – does not reflect the will of the people,” he added. “This common-sense legislation reflects the will of the people and deserves the support of the House.  It is one of our highest legislative priorities.  As such, I have directed that it receive the designation of H.R. 3.  I appreciate Congressman Smith’s steadfast leadership on this critical issue.”