Senate Panel Also Agrees to Obama’s Plan to Fund Abortions in Nation’s Capital

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 13, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senate Panel Also Agrees to Obama’s Plan to Fund Abortions in Nation’s Capital

by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 13
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — Following a vote by their colleagues in the House, members of a Senate committee agreed to President Barack Obama’s request to fund abortions in the nation’s capital. Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee defeated an effort to restore the Dornan Amendment to prohibit such abortion funding.

As has repeatedly reported, President Obama asked members of Congress to write the federal budget bills in such as way as to allow tax-funding abortions in the District of Columbia.

The House complied and, last week, the House Appropriations Committee voted largely along partisan lines to prevent a pro-life amendment restoring the funding ban.

On the Senate side, Sen. Sam Brownback, a pro-life Kansas Republican, offered an amendment to the Financial Services appropriations bill (S. 1432) to restore the long-standing abortion funding limits.

However, the amendment failed by a vote of 15-13 with Democrats mostly voting against the amendment and Republicans supporting it. Democratic Sens. Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Mark Pryor of Arkansas broke with their caucus to support the Brownback amendment.

In an email to, Brownback expressed his displeasure with the committee for backing Obama’s abortion funding plan.

“Over 41 percent of pregnancies in the District of Columbia end in abortion — is the highest rate in the nation by a long shot,” Brownback said. “That’s why I am outraged that the committee passed this amendment. The last thing we need in DC is more abortions."

Brownback said the vote will "create a huge opposition to this appropriations bill" and pro-life lawmakers, including Brownback, may try to amend the bill on the Senate floor to include the abortion funding ban or filibuster the bill if the amendment is not added.

The Dornan amendment, for most years, has prohibited taxpayer funding of abortions in Washington, D.C. since 1988.

The National Right to Life Committee issued a letter Thursday from Douglas Johnson, its legislative director, urging support for the amendment.

"A vote in favor of the bill, so long as it contains the new language that guts the pro-life policy, will be accurately reported in NRLC’s annual congressional scorecard as a vote to fund abortion on demand with funds appropriated by Congress," Johnson explained.

Johnson’s letter also exposes the accounting sleight of hand that abortion advocates used to make it appear taxpayer funds are not being used to pay for abortions.

"The subcommittee-reported bill contains new language that would allow the city government to pay for abortion on demand with so-called ‘local’ funds appropriated by Congress," Johnson said in the letter provided to

He says the taxpayer-funding of abortions allowed in the bill would result in an additional 1,000 abortions in the nation’s capital.

"The true cost of enacting this change would be in the loss of approximately 1,000 extra human lives during each fiscal year that government — funded abortion is available," Johnson 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.

Although Congress has banned taxpayer-funded abortions in D.C. for years, the budget request Obama released in May asked, on Appendix page 1209, for Congress to repeal the ban.

ACTION: Contact members of the Senate and urge them to support an amendment to stop taxpayer-funding of abortion in the District of Columbia. Go to for contact info.

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