Senate Approves Omnibus Bill Funding Abortions in Nation’s Capital, Obama to Sign
by Steven Ertelt
December 13, 2009
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The Senate approved an omnibus spending bill on Sunday that would lift the 13-year-long ban on directly paying for abortions in the nation’s capital. The legislation, which President Barack Obama is expected to sign, also contains funding for Planned Parenthood and the UNFPA.
The Senate passed the bill, which funds several federal government departments, by a 57-35 vote, with Democrats backing the measure and most Republicans opposing it.
Passage of the measure today was no surprise given that Democrats won a filibuster battle on a narrow 60-34 vote that saw Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Thad Cochran of Mississippi and Richard Shelby of Alabama side with Democrats to move ahead to a vote on the bill.
Those same three Republicans voted for the bill and three Democrats, pro-abortion Sens. Evan Bayh of Indiana, Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, all voted against it for other reasons.
Shelby voted for the bill even though he signed a letter along with 35 other Republicans saying they would filibuster it because of the abortion funding. Collins and Cochran did not sign the letter.
Democrats held open the vote to allow ailing pro-abortion Sen. Robert Byrd to come to the Senate to vote and for pro-abortion Jewish Sen. Joseph Lieberman to walk from synagogue to support it.
Several pro-life organizations called on members of the Senate to oppose the bill because it overturned the Dornan Amendment that has prohibited taxpayer funding of abortions in the District of Columbia.
Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council called the bill "a Christmas gift to Planned Parenthood" and "supporters of coercive abortion."
This appropriations bill guts a longstanding prohibition on using public funds to pay for abortions in the District of Columbia," Charmaine Yoest of Americans United for Life complained in a statement to LifeNews.com.
"The bill also provides millions of dollars for international ‘family planning’ that could be directed to organizations that pay for and promote abortions. A majority of Americans do not support the use of their tax dollars to pay for abortions," she said.
The bill also appropriates $648.5 million for international family planning funding, an increase of $103 million from Fiscal Year 2009, without the constraints of the Mexico City Policy to prevent these dollars from being provided to organizations that promote and perform abortions.
The bill also increases funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which has an admittedly pro-abortion agenda and has been criticized for working hand-in-hand with Chinese population control officials, to $55 million, a $5 million increase from FY09.
Perkins’ group also informed LifeNews.com that the bill cuts abstinence education funding.
House members approved the omnibus bill with the abortion, Planned Parenthood and UNFPA funding on a vote of 221-202-1.
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 LifeNews.com obtained.
"Prior to the initial adoption of the congressional ban, public funds were used to pay for over 4,000 abortions annually in the nations 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.
Also before the vote, 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.
ACTION: Contact members of the Senate at 202-224-3121 or https://www.Senate.gov and respond to their vote on the omnibus bill and its taxpayer funding of abortions in the District of Columbia. See how your members voted at this link.
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