by Steven Ertelt
November 22, 2004
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The fight isn’t over on a measure that protects health care providers who do not want to perform, pay for or provide insurance coverage for abortions. A leading pro-abortion Senator is expected to put forward a bill that would overturn the measure.
Over the weekend, the House and Senate gave final approval to a Congressional spending bill containing the Hyde-Weldon anti-discrimination amendment.
The provision 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.
All that is necessary for the measure to become law is for the larger bill to be signed by the president, which is expected in the next couple of weeks after some unrelated issues are resolved.
The measure was originally passed by the House of Representatives as a stand-alone bill known as the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA) but it never received a Senate vote.
Pro-abortion lawmakers, led by Barbara Boxer of California, are upset that the measure was added to the spending bill without a full Senate vote.
On Saturday, Boxer pledged to use procedural tactics to stall the spending bill. However, she relented after Senate Republican leaders promised her a vote on a bill to overturn the Hyde-Weldon measure.
That was a smart move according to Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee who says such a bill by Boxer would never succeed.
"Senator Boxer was promised a vote on a bill to repeal the law, but this is of little consequence," Johnson told LifeNews.com. "Even if such a bill passes the Senate, which is doubtful, it would not pass the House, nor receive the President’s signature."
The House previously passed the bill with a 229-to-189 vote in September 2002.
Pro-life groups say the measures is necessary because abortion advocates are working feverishly to require hospitals and insurance companies to perform or pay for abortions.
Pro-life Representative Dave Weldon (R-FL), a doctor by profession, sponsored the ANDA bill in the House.
Weldon described a campaign by the NARAL’s Maryland affiliate to require hospitals in the state to perform abortion. He also pointed out pro-abortion efforts to sue a Catholic hospital in New Jersey and to lobby courts in Alaska to require a private nonsectarian hospital to perform abortions.
"Under this new law, no agency or official of any government will be permitted to penalize, in any way, any health care provider for refusing to provide, pay for, or refer for abortions," Johnson told LifeNews.com.
Currently, 86 percent of American hospitals do not allow abortions to be performed.