by Steven Ertelt
September 13, 2007
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Members of Congress will likely be embroiled in a debate again soon over the bill to fund the SCHIP program. Last month, Congress voted against a Bush administration policy that allows states to provide funding for poor pregnant women that could help them avoid abortions.
In 2002, President Bush authorized a change in the SCHIP program that allowed states to cover poor pregnant women and their unborn babies under the medical insurance program.
Several states such as California, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Texas, Wisconsin and Michigan have done so.
Pro-life groups were thankful for the "unborn child rule" because the program provides help to vulnerable pregnant women who might have an abortion because of financial pressures.
But, pro-abortion lawmakers in the House revised the program last month and dropped the Unborn Child Rule in favor of language saying that pregnant women can be covered, but not their babies.
Sen. Wayne Allard, a Colorado Republican, attempted to include unborn children again, but his amendment was defeated Thursday on a 50-49 mostly party-line vote.
Despite the vote, Douglas Johnson, the legislative director of National Right to Life, says the House and Senate version of the SCHIP bills take different approaches to the "unborn child rule."
“The Senate bill does have language that makes it clear that they are not overturning the rule," he told the National Catholic Register.
As a result, the eventual approach the bill takes will depend on the outcome of a conference committee which will meet later this month to iron out the differences in the two pieces of legislation.
What the conference committee decides is important because not only will pregnant women lose medical support but taxpayers could be forced to fund abortions if the House language becomes the language used in the final bill sent to President Bush.
The court decisions requiring some states to fund abortions would come into play with the House language in place.
“The pregnant woman can get whatever coverage that pregnant women get in that state,” Richard Doerflinger of the U.S. bishops’ conference told the Register. “In 17 states, that means elective abortions.”
“Obviously we think that covering the woman and child in the name of the unborn child is preferable,” he said.
Johnson says President Bush will likely veto the bill for this and other reasons and that Congress will have to start over with a new version of the SCHIP bill that is less objectionable.
“There are a lot of other issues in play,” Johnson said. “No matter what happens in conference, it may end up that what the Congress committee produces will be vetoed and we’ll be back to square one.”