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House Passes Complete Ban on Taxpayer Funding of Abortions

by Steven Ertelt | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 5/4/11 5:19 PM

National

The House of Representatives today approved a complete ban on taxpayer funding of abortions that ensures abortions are not directly funded in any federal governmental program or department.

The legislation combines several policies that must be enacted every year in Congressional battles and puts them into law where they will not be in jeopardy of being overturned every time Congress changes hands from pro-life lawmakers to those who support abortions.

The House passed HR 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, on a 251-175 vote with Republicans voting 235-0 for the bill and Democrats voting 175-16 against it.

Congressman Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican who is the lead sponsor of the bill, informed the House that a study by the Guttmacher Institute, the pro-abortion former research apparatus of Planned Parenthood, released a study noting that one-quarter of women who otherwise would have had abortions chose to give birth when taxpayer dollars were not available to pay for abortions of their children.

Smith spoke on the House floor today about what he said was growing public opinion against abortion. He also praised women who regret having terminated their pregnancies and speak out against abortions.

“For decades, a patchwork of short-term policies have prevented abortion funding in many programs authorized by Congress, but it is time for a single, government-wide permanent protection against taxpayer funding for elective abortion,” Smith said. “Abortion is lethal violence against children and exploitation of women. This legislation would establish a comprehensive policy prohibiting public funding for elective abortion in all federal programs.”

A majority of Americans object to the use of taxpayer money for funding abortion, according to numerous polls — including a survey CNN conducted in early April showing Americans oppose public funding of abortion by a margin of 61% to 35%.

The bill will also mitigate concerns about abortion funding in the various loopholes in the Obamacare national health care bill that various pro-life organizations warned about during debate on the law. The legislation did not contain language banning funding of abortions in its provisions and the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act would fix that problem.

The National Right to Life Committee sent a letter to House members urging support for the legislation that explains how the bill will help:

“Regrettably, however, the 111th Congress enacted the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). During consideration of that legislation, language was proposed (the Stupak-Pitts Amendment) to apply the principles of the Hyde Amendment to the multitude of programs created by the bill, and the House initially approved that language – but no such provision was part of the enacted law, due to opposition from President Obama and the Senate majority. Consequently, the enacted PPACA contains multiple provisions authorizing funding of abortion and funding of health plans that cover abortion.”

The National Right to Life letter also commented on another lesser-known provision of the tax-funded abortion ban — it’s language to protect health care professionals who don’t want to be involved in abortions.

“The bill would codify the principles of the Hyde-Weldon Amendment, which has been appended to the original Hyde Amendment on every Health and Human Services appropriations bill since 2004. This provision would solidify important protections for health care providers who do not wish to participate in providing abortions – which is especially important in light of the Obama Administration’s February 23, 2011 action rescinding the conscience protection regulation issued by the Bush Administration.”

Before the House voted on the legislation, it approved the rules for debate on a similar 243-177 vote with 231 Republicans and 12 Democrats agreeing to the rules guiding the debate. The rules also prohibited Democrats from sending the measure back to committee, where it would have been watered down or defeated.

Also, before the vote, the White House said President Barack Obama would add to his lengthy pro-abortion record by vetoing the legislation. Obama would veto HR 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, with the White House saying the president opposes the bill because it would supposedly make it tougher for women to obtain abortion coverage from private insurance companies thereby expanding the current Hyde Amendment, which only limits tax-funded abortions under Medicaid, beyond its current reach.

Although Obama would veto the bill, the question beyond Wednesday’s House vote — where Republicans and a handful of Democrats are expected to vote for the legislation — is whether it could get beyond the Senate and land on Obama’s desk. With pro-abortion Democrats strongly opposing the bill, Republicans would have to find another piece of legislation to attach the measure to and would likely need to overcome a very difficult 60-vote threshold to do so.

In February, the House Judiciary Committee approved the main bill on a mostly partisan 23-14 vote. The committee also removed a provision concerning forcible rape that abortion advocates had used to misconstrue the intent of the legislation. The party-line vote saw Republicans on the panel supporting the measure and Democrats on the committee voting against it, with the exception of Puerto Rico Del. Pedro Pierluisi.

At the end of March, a second House committee voted 22 to 14 to give approval to a companion bill to the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” HR 3, thereby setting up a vote on the House floor.

ACTION: See how your House member voted by going here.