For two years, the nation’s capital was allowed to fund abortions with taxpayer dollars thanks to congressional Democrats passing and President Barack Obama signing into law a budget allowing the District of Columbia to do so.
Now, new documents the Associated Press obtained from the city show it paid for 300 abortions using public funds. The policy, thanks to negotiating from pro-life Speaker John Boehner this Spring, has been scrapped in favor of the long-standing ban on taxpayer funding of abortions in D.C. However, the battle is an annual one that pro-life lawmakers must fight, as abortion proponents work to reverse it each session of Congress — and House Republicans have approved a bill keeping the ban.
The files AP obtained shows the District of Columbia spent $185,000 paying for elective abortions for women below the poverty level for any reason and during any point in pregnancy. The city responded to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Associated Press to obtain the figures.
However, the number of abortions and total cost is at odds with previous statement from city officials.
When Democrats reinstated abortion funding after taking over both houses of Congress, the D.C. Department of Health Care Finance said it paid for 117 elective abortions totaling about $62,000. AP indicates the office of Mayor Vincent Gray said those figures are lower than the totals provided to the news outlet because not all of the bills for the abortions had been processed at that time. City spokeswoman Doxie McCoy says the final abortion totals for the two-year time period could rise further once every abortion payment has been processed.
The number of publicly-funded abortions is high if only because one-third of the 600,000 people living in the city are on Medicaid or have coverage through the D.C. HeathCare Alliance, which pays for abortions.
Douglas Johnson, the legislation director for the National Right to life Committee, told LifeNews that the policy is Obama’s doing.
“”The responsibility for these 300 government-funded abortions rests squarely with President Obama, who urged Congress to lift the longstanding ban in 2009, and with Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, who rammed through the repeal without allowing roll call votes on the issue in either house of Congress,” he said. “Some of these unborn children would be alive today, if it had not been for the Obama-dictated change in policy.”
“When he ran for president, Obama said he would push policies to reduce abortions, but this is one of many examples in which his pro-abortion actions belie those empty words,” Johnson continued. “Thanks to Speaker John Boehner and other House Republican leaders, the pro-life ban was restored during negotiations last spring — but we can expect renewed clashes over the issue during the months ahead.”
The ban was the subject of debate during the massive budget fight between Republicans and President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats this April. Boehner negotiated a compromise budget that reinstated the ban on abortion funding in D.C.
Although the D.C. abortion funding ban has been in place in the past, Republican lawmakers sent a letter to Mayor Vincent Gray telling him that he needs to implement it. They said, “With reinstatement of the D.C. Hyde amendment public funding for the destruction of innocent human life will no longer be permitted in D.C. However, history has shown that the District has not always complied with this policy when it has been in place in the past. When this policy was reinstated in FY96, the District continued to fund abortions in violation of the law until the violation was uncovered in FY98.”
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.
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 because of the taxpayer funding.
“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.
Until recently,Democrats have historically agreed to the language stopping taxpayer funding of abortions, also known as the DC Hyde Amendment.
The Dornan Amendment has 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.
In February, the group Live Action caught on undercover video footage showing D.C. Planned Parenthood staff ignoring alleged sex traffickers who wanted to arrange abortions for their victims.