Congressional Battle on Taxpayer Funding of Abortions Expected This Month

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 5, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Congressional Battle on Taxpayer Funding of Abortions Expected This Month Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 5
, 2007

Washington, DC ( — Congress will be battling this week on a bill to force taxpayers to fund embryonic stem cell research but this month members of the House will also likely do battle on various provisions that stop taxpayer-funded abortions both in the United States and abroad.

Every year as Congress debates the spending bills for the various parts of the federal government, they normally attach provisions to them to stop tax-funded abortions.

The provisions target everything from abortions done on American military base hospitals or in the District of Columbia to making sure the State Department isn’t financing groups that promote or perform abortions in other nations.

Pro-life groups and lawmakers expect the pro-abortion Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee to try to remove these protective provisions from the bills during the committee markups this month. They could also propose amendments to the bills as they come on the House floor, though that may be a more difficult process.

The panel is expected to examine the funding bills over the next two weeks.

Should they remove the provisions, their actions would set up a battle between Congress and the White House as President Bush vowed in May to veto any spending bill that takes away the protections against taxpayer-funded abortions.

"I will veto any legislation that weakens current Federal policies and laws on abortion, or that encourages the destruction of human life at any stage," the president promised in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

That could put abortion advocates in a difficult position as pro-abortion groups are lobbying Democratic leaders heavily to remove the pro-life provisions.

The Hill newspaper, which monitors Capitol Hill, reports that one leading abortion advocate said that pro-abortion groups such as NARAL and Planned Parenthood are demanding that two key amendments are removed from the appropriations bills.

One, the Mexico City policy, is a provision Republican presidents have used for years to stop federal funding of groups that do abortions abroad or lobby countries to change their abortion laws to legalize it.

The other provision, known as Kemp-Kasten, prohibits the federal government from funding any programs that promote forced abortions. It has halted tens of millions of dollars every year from going to the UNFPA because the UN agency has been complicit in China’s family planning program that involves forced abortions and sterilizations.

Abortion advocates are also targeting the Hyde amendment which has prevented direct taxpayer funding of abortions since the 1970s and allows it only in cases of rape, incest or endangerment to the mother’s life.

Douglas Johnson, the legislative director of National Right to Life, who is monitoring the situation for pro-life advocates, talked with The Hill about the process.

"These so-called riders have been carried for decades on [spending] bills; we regard those as default positions," he said.

He said Democrats should make no mistake about the veto promise President Bush issued.

"The Democratic leadership wants to show they can make the appropriations train run on time. If they allow attempts to roll back established pro-life riders, they’ll be blowing up their own railroad bridges. The likely result will be to doom certain appropriations bills but not change the policy."

Abortion advocates would have a hard time overriding the vetoes because 135 Republicans in the House and another 34 in the Senate signed letters to Bush promising to uphold the vetoes.