Senate Will Soon Consider Abortion Funding in DC, for Federal Employees

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 7, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senate Will Soon Consider Abortion Funding in DC, for Federal Employees

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 7
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — The campaign to stop the massive expansion of taxpayer-funding of abortions through the health care bills isn’t the only abortion debate that will take place in Congress as lawmakers return from their August break. They will also consider funding abortions in the nation’s capital and for federal employees.

Early this summer, 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 approved a bill that funds abortions in Washington and then the House Appropriations Committee voted largely along partisan lines to prevent a pro-life amendment restoring the funding ban, called the Dornan Amendment.

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 in committee 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.

The Senate will eventually vote on S 1432 on the floor and Brownback is expected to offer his amendment again to restore the abortion funding ban for the nation’s capital.

Meanwhile, the Senate Financial Services appropriations bill also removes the pro-life provision that prohibit forcing taxpayers to pay for abortions for federal workers under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), the insurance program for the government’s employees.

In 1983, Congress halted any taxpayer money in FEHBP funds from being used to pay for insurance plans that cover abortion, except where a woman’s life is in jeopardy. This provision was removed in 1993 but reinstated in 1996.

Douglas Johnson, the legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, previously told that Senator Dick Durbin, the number two Democrat in the Senate, is responsible for removing the abortion funding ban from the bill.

It is likely that pro-life lawmakers will float an amendment on the Senate floor to restore the language and the vote will likely be a close one where pro-life and moderate Democrats will be needed to join with most Republicans in supporting the amendment.

The Family Research Council says adding the FEHBP abortion funding ban is important given the current debate over abortion funding in the health care bills.

"This is particularly noteworthy in light of the ongoing debate on national health care reform, because the FEHBP has been repeatedly used as an example of what the new national health care system might look like," the group tells "In that context, it is alarming that the Senate is now proposing to fund abortion through the FEHBP."

ACTION: Contact members of the Senate at 202-224-3121 or and oppose taxpayer funding of abortions for federal employees and in the District of Columbia. Ask that the abortion funding bans be added back to S. 1432.

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