Senate Democrats caved on the issue of abortion late Friday night despite facing enormous pressure from pro-abortion groups to hold the line on taxpayer funding of abortion and Planned Parenthood funding.
Republicans and Democrats agreed to a budget deal with less than two hours to spare before the federal government engaged in a partial shutdown. The deal restores language that prohibits federal taxpayer funding of abortions in the nation’s capital that President Barack Obama and Democrats removed in a previous budget when they controlled both chambers of Congress.
Secondly, the deal requires Senate Democrats to allow a vote on a bill the House Republicans already approved to repeal the pro-abortion Obamacare bill that contains abortion funding and rationing concerns.
The deal also requires something Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said he would never allow — a vote in the Senate on revoking funding for the Planned Parenthood abortion business.
“Those that I focused on are not only no, but hell no,” Reid said previously about whether he would allow a vote on de-funding. “I’m not going to be part of that. I won’t do it,” he said about efforts to cut Planned Parenthood funding on the part of House Republicans.
Tonight, Speaker John Boehner forced him to allow a vote in the Senate on funding the abortion business that provides pro-life advocates an opportunity to further raise points about how Planned Parenthood doesn’t protect women’s health, has covered up cases of sexual abuse, and has used $363 million in annual federal funding from the government to prop up a business that now does more than one-quarter of all abortions in the nation.
The Planned Parenthood funding vote in the Senate also contains significant 2012 election implications for the three “pro-life” Democrats who will be up for re-election next year — Sens. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. Other Democrats who are under the gun next election year and face tough re-election battles may also take heavy criticism from pro-life advocates if they vote to keep tens of millions of dollars going to the nation’s biggest abortion business.
The portion of the deal pertaining the banning taxpayer funding of abortion is already being hailed by pro-life groups as a significant victory and one that will result in saving the lives of 1,000 unborn children annually who may have been aborted.
The DC abortion funding ban would restore the Dornanamendment to ensure that no congressionally appropriated funds (whether locally or federally generated) may pay for abortion in the District of Columbia. The good news for pro-life advocates is that the inclusion of the Dornan Amendment in the one-week continuing resolution ensures it remains in place to prohibit abortion funding in the nation’s capital for the rest of the year.
When House Republicans put forward HR 1, the continuing resolution bill to fund the federal government for FY2011, they put language in the legislation to restore the ban on taxpayer funding of abortions in the District of Columbia that Obama and House Democrats overturned when they controlled the chamber. Since the defeat of HR 1, pro-life organizations have clamored for a restoration of the D.C. abortion funding ban and, now, it has returned.
The policy was in place from 1996-2009. Then, Democrats initially approved an omnibus spending bill lifting the 13-year-long ban on directly paying for abortions in the nation’s capital and Obama eventually signed the measure.
National Right to Life Committee legislative director Douglas Johnson wrote to members of Congress at that time urging them to oppose the bill because of the abortion funding in the District of Columbia and said the number of abortions in the nation’s capital would increase by 1,000 annually because of the taxpayer funding.
“The National Right to Life Committee urges you to vote against passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010 (H.R. 3288), because the bill would lift a longstanding prohibition on the use of funds appropriated by Congress to pay for elective abortions in the District of Columbia,” the group said in a letter LifeNews.com obtained.
“Prior to the initial adoption of the congressional ban, public funds were used to pay for over 4,000 abortions annually in the nation’s capital,” Johnson noted back then. “If the pro-life policy is lifted by enactment of H.R. 3288, public funding of elective abortion will resume, and the predictable result will be that the number of abortions performed will increase, probably by around 1,000 per year.”
Democrats have historically agreed to the language stopping taxpayer funding of abortions, also known as the DC Hyde Amendment.
The Dornan Amendment has even been included in numerous Appropriations bills supported by members on both sides of the abortion debate. Notably, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, who backs abortion, included the DC Abortion Funding ban in his own legislative text twice since Democrats gained control of the Senate in 2007. President Clinton signed this policy into law six times and President Obama signed the policy into law for FY09 and voted to continue the policy twice while serving in the U.S. Senate.
Earlier in the day, Reid also made the claim that cutting off Planned Parenthood funding is not about abortions and that cancer screenings are the real issue.
Yet, Live Action released videotaped footage of calls to 30 Planned Parenthood centers nationwide in 27 different states where abortion facility staff were asked whether or not mammograms could be performed on site. Every one of the Planned Parenthood centers admitted they could not do mammograms. Every Planned Parenthood, without exception, tells the women calling that they will have to go elsewhere for a mammogram, and many clinics admit that no Planned Parenthood clinics provide this breast cancer screening procedure.
“We don’t provide those services whatsoever,” admits a staffer at Planned Parenthood of Arizona while a staffer at Planned Parenthood’s Comprehensive Health Center clinic in Overland Park, Kansas tells a caller, “We actually don’t have a, um, mammogram machine, at our clinics.”