Senator to Ensure Indian American Health Care Bill Doesn’t Fund Abortions

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 17, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senator to Ensure Indian American Health Care Bill Doesn’t Fund Abortions Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 17,

Washington, DC ( — The Senate will take up the Indian health care reauthorization bill Tuesday and, when it does, a pro-life senator plans an amendment to make sure none of the funds pay for abortions. The amendment from Sen. David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican considered a leader on stopping funding of abortions, comes on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

The Vitter Amendment would codify a longstanding policy against funding of abortions with federal Indian Health Service (IHS) funds.

Its language follows that of the Hyde amendment, which prohibits direct funding of abortion under Medicaid except in very rare cases when the mother is a victim of rape or incest or when the pregnancy threatens her life.

According to Douglas Johnson, the director of legislation for the National Right to Life Committee, the IHS is funded through the separate Interior appropriations bill. As a result, it has never carried the Hyde amendment and the bill funded abortions well after the Hyde amendment was first enacted in 1976.

The Reagan Administration curbed the practice administratively in 1982, as a temporary fix, Johnson said. In 1988, Congress said that the Hyde amendment would apply to the IHS bill.

Johnson said the Vitter amendment is important to make sure that the abortion funding limits become federal law.

Should a pro-abortion president occupy the White House and abortion advocates control Congress, there is nothing that could stop them from changing the current regulations unless a federal law prohibiting the funding is in place.

Johnson wrote to members of Congress in a letter on Thursday that he provided to

"NRLC urges adoption of Senator Vitter’s amendment, which would codify the longstanding policy," he wrote.

He told lawmakers, "if you are opposed to direct federal funding of abortion on demand, you should support the Vitter Amendment."

"Rejection of the Vitter Amendment would have the effect of leaving the door open to future federal funding of abortion on demand by the IHS," he concluded.

Johnson told senators that the vote on the Vitter amendment would be included in the scorecard of Congressional votes NRLC tabulates at the end of every Congressional session.

ACTION: Contact your two U.S. senators and urge strong support for the Vitter amendment. Call 202-224-3121 to connect with any senator’s office or visit