Catholic Bishops to House: Keep Ban on Tax-Funded Abortions in Nation’s Capital

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 30, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Catholic Bishops to House: Keep Ban on Tax-Funded Abortions in Nation’s Capital

by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 30
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — A House committee is set to vote next week on legislation that President Barack Obama requested which could result in spending taxpayer funds on abortions in the nation’s capital. When it votes, the nation’s Catholic bishops have asked that the House support keeping the Dornan Amendment in place.

The amendment has ensured that federal funds are not used to pay for abortions for poor women in Washington, D.C., which has one of the nation’s highest abortion rates.

Hoping to fulfill the wish list of pro-abortion groups, Obama requested that Congress overturn the longstanding ban.

Last week, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government obliged and marked up the District of Columbia budget to include Obama’s request for tax-funded abortions.

The measure now heads to the full House Appropriations Committee, where it will be considered on Tuesday, July 7. There, pro-life advocates will likely try to offer an amendment to restore the Dornan Amendment and stop Obama’s abortion funding agenda.

The chairman of the pro-life activities at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops wants House members to restore the Dornan amendment.

Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia sent a letter to members of the panel today urging them not to fund abortions in the District of Columbia. The USCCB provided a copy of the letter to

Cardinal Rigali said that the subcommittee’s action “effectively nullifies the Dornan amendment,” which for a total of 18 years has prevented public funding of elective abortions in the nation’s capital.

He said this move, “presumably the first step in a broader effort to restore such funding throughout the federal government,” is misguided for three reasons.

“First, public funding of abortion is rejected by the American people, as numerous surveys of public opinion have shown,” Cardinal Rigali said. He also noted that Catholics recently sent “tens of millions of postcards to their elected representatives in Congress, opposing…any weakening or reversal of current appropriations riders on abortion.”

“Second, no lawmaker or Administration can support such a policy change and still claim to support ‘reducing abortions.’ The evidence is overwhelming, and universally recognized by groups on all sides of the abortion issue, that the availability of public funds for abortion greatly increases abortions,” the bishops’ Pro-Life Committee Chair argued.

“Third, this action takes place as Congress is working to win broad support for a much-needed major reform of our health care system,” Cardinal Rigali noted. “This is the worst of all possible times to be injecting the divisive issue of public abortion funding into the debate on government health policy.”

Obama’s request will mean more abortions, he said, not fewer, says Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee.

"If Congress goes along with the Obama proposal, the predictable result will be tax funding of several thousand elective abortions annually, including roughly 1,000 abortions annually that would not otherwise occur," Johnson explained.

Johnson says even pro-abortion groups have published studies showing that bans on taxpayer-funded abortions reduce the number of abortions by about one-third.

"The abortion industry’s own studies suggest that many thousands of residents of the nation’s capital are alive today because of the abortion funding ban that President Obama now proposes to repeal," he said.

From 1988 until 1993, Congress annually included the ban on the use of congressionally appropriated funds to pay for abortions in the District of Columbia.

The ban was rescinded during the early years of the Clinton administration and reinstated in 1996, though Johnson points out that the Washington city government illegally continued to pay for abortions for two subsequent years.

During the congressional debates of that era, evidence was cited that indicated that the city’s abortion-funding policy was among the most permissive in the nation, and was not even limited to Medicaid-eligible clients, Johnson explained.

In fact, in 1994, then-Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly authorized the use of $1,000,000 from the Medical Charities fund, originally set up to help indigent AIDS patients, to pay for abortions.

ACTION: Contact members of the Appropriations Committee and ask them to restore the Dornan Amendment to stop tax-funded abortions in DC. Find a list of members here.

Related web sites:
Cardinal Rigali’s letter –

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