House Approves Omnibus Spending Bill That Funds Abortions in Nation’s Capital

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 10, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

House Approves Omnibus Spending Bill That Funds Abortions in Nation’s Capital

by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 10
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — The House of Representatives on Thursday approved an omnibus spending bill that would overturn a decades-long policy preventing taxpayer funding of abortions in the nation’s capital. One pro-life group suggests overturning the policy could increase abortions by as much as 1,000 a year.

The Dornan Amendment has prevented the federal government from paying for abortions in the District of Columbia, whose budget is overseen by Congress.

But the omnibus spending bill, a collection of appropriations bills needed to fund the federal government, includes language overturning the amendment.

House members approved the omnibus bill on a vote of 221-202-1 despite calls from pro-life groups to oppose the legislation because of the taxpayer funding of abortion.

No Republicans voted for the measure and 28 Democrats were concerned enough about the abortion funding (or other issues) to vote against the measure as well. A survey of the Democrats voting against the measure reveals many who have longstanding pro-life voting records.

The omnibus bill now heads to the Senate, where 35 pro-life lawmakers have already said they plan to filibuster the bill because of the abortion funding.

However, whether they will be able to get six more votes to help them stop abortion advocates from getting the 60 votes they need is another question. The Senate is expected to cast a vote on the measure this weekend.

Before today’s vote, National Right to Life Committee legislative director Douglas Johnson wrote to members of Congress urging them to oppose the bill because of the abortion funding in the District of Columbia.

"The National Right to Life Committee urges you to vote against passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010 (H.R. 3288), because the bill would lift a longstanding prohibition on the use of funds appropriated by Congress to pay for elective abortions in the District of Columbia," the group said in a letter obtained.

"Prior to the initial adoption of the congressional ban, public funds were used to pay for over 4,000 abortions annually in the nation’s capital," Johnson notes.

"If the pro-life policy is lifted by enactment of H.R. 3288, public funding of elective abortion will resume, and the predictable result will be that the number of abortions performed will increase, probably by around 1,000 per year," he explains.

Johnson said abortion advocates have used accounting trickery to cover up the abortion funding under the bill.

He said they would "assert that the bill language (found in Division C, Title VIII, Section 814 of H.R. 3288) would only allow the use of ‘local’ funds for abortion, not ‘federal’ funds," he says in the letter.

"In reality, this distinction is entirely contrived – an attempt to paper over the fact that the entire budget for the District of Columbia (including locally generated revenues) is appropriated by Congress," he explained.

As a result, all money the District of Columbia spends is federal funds from American taxpayers and opening up abortion funding directly results in taxpayer funding of abortions in Washington.

"NRLC believes that the defense of innocent human life is a matter of sufficient gravity to fully justify" votes against the bill, Johnson concludes.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has asked lawmakers there for unanimous consent to stop the debate on the health care bill and to allow a vote on the omnibus bill in that chamber.

However, pro-life Sen. Jim DeMint, on behalf of almost all of the Republican members of the Senate, has pledged to filibuster the omnibus bill if the abortion funding is not removed.

As has reported, pro-life advocates were concerned about two other potential pro-abortion provisions.

The omnibus bill could have made permanent President Barack Obama’s reversal of the Mexico City Policy — his action made it so taxpayers are forced to fund groups that promote and perform abortions overseas. The omnibus could have also overturned a law that prohibits taxpayer funding of abortions in the health insurance plan for federal employees.

Members of the conference committee removed those two concerns, but left in place the language overturning the Dornan amendment.

The letter from DeMint makes clear they are “prepared to take full advantage of our rights under Senate rules to prevent massive taxpayer subsidies for abortions and abortion-related activities.”

DeMint explains further saying the abortion policy changes are “unacceptable and Republicans will use every tool at our disposal to prevent taxpayers from being forced to fund the destruction of innocent life.”

Ultimately, that means DeMint and pro-life lawmakers would likely filibuster the omnibus bill in the Senate to ensure the pro-life laws stopping taxpayer funding of abortions or abortion promotion in those instances stay in place.

ACTION: Contact members of the House about the vote for the bill. See how your members voted here.

Also, Contact members of the Senate at 202-224-3121 or and urge them to oppose the omnibus bill because of the taxpayer funding of abortions in the District of Columbia.

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