House Protects Health Care Providers on Abortion, Senate Will Battle

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 20, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

House Protects Health Care Providers on Abortion, Senate Will Battle Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 20, 2004

Washington, DC ( — The U.S. House of Representatives on Saturday passed a federal spending bill containing a provision that protects pro-life health care providers who opt against performing or paying for abortions.

The Hyde-Weldon anti-discrimination amendment ensures that state and local governments receiving money from the federal Health and Human Services Department cannot discriminate against health care providers that do not perform abortions, pay for abortions, provide insurance coverage for abortions or refer to agencies that perform abortions.

The provision covers doctors and other health care professionals, hospitals, insurance companies, and others.

Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee said the pro-life provision is important because it will "prevent state and local government officials from compelling health care providers to participate in killing unborn children."

However, abortion advocates are upset that the measure was added to the bill and groups like NARAL, NOW and Planned Parenthood have pledged to attempt to remove it as the Senate considers the spending legislation.

Senator Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat who backs abortion, promised she would employ procedural tactics in the Senate to stop other legislative business unless the provision was changed or deleted.

"I am willing to stand on my feet and slow this thing down," Boxer told the Associated Press. "Everyone wants to go home, I know that, and I know I will not win a popularity contest in the Senate. But they should not be doing this. On a huge spending bill they’re writing law, and they’re taking away rights from women."

Boxer said she complained to Senator Ted Stevens, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee.

However, according to AP report, Stevens told her that House Republican leaders wanted the provision to stay and that he doesn’t intend to remove it when the Senate considers the bill this coming week.

Nine senators, including eight Democrats and pro-abortion Republican Olympia Snowe of Maine, also wrote to Stevens urging him to change or remove the language.

President Bush strongly supports the Hyde-Weldon provision.

In a letter to members of Congress earlier this week, the Bush administration wrote that the president "strongly supports language added by the House to ensure that health care providers are not discriminated against because they do not provide, pay for, or cover abortions."

The Hyde-Weldon provision is named after its House sponsors, pro-life Reps. Henry Hyde of Illinois and Dave Weldon, of Florida.

ACTION: Contact your two senators and urge strong support for keeping the Hyde-Weldon provision in place. You can call any Senator at 202-224-3121 or find specific contact information for yours at