Congress Back in Town, Pro-Life Groups Play Defense on Abortion, ESCR Funding
by Steven Ertelt
September 13, 2010
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Congress is back in town this week and that means the pro-life movement is playing defense on expected votes related to abortion and embryonic stem cell research funding — both involving taxpayer dollars. They will try to defeat a bill for ESCR funding and get an amendment approved on military base abortions.
Blair Bjellos, the legislative director for the Susan B. Anthony List talked about the upcoming battles in a new memo.
Sen. Rolland Burris of Illinois attached an amendment to the Defense Department spending bill that would have the military break with current longstanding policy disallowing abortions at military base hospitals, which are funded at taxpayer expense.
Current law in effect since 1996 prohibits the performance of abortion by Department of Defense medical personnel or at DOD medical facilities. A separate provision prohibits the use of DOD funds for abortion except to save the life of the mother.
Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi led the fight in the committee against the amendment to strike that law and plans an amendment of his own on the Senate floor to remove the Burris language.
"The Senate has yet to consider their version of the Defense Authorization bill, which currently includes the legalization of abortion on military bases, both domestically and abroad," Bjellos said in her memo.
"In wartime, the last thing we need to do is spend resources on the destruction of life in military clinics where they work to preserve the lives of our servicemen and women," she said.
A recent poll finds, by a 49-41 percent margin, Americans say they don’t want to see abortions done in the hospitals that treat the men and women of the armed forces.
Meanwhile, the House is expected to vote this month on an as-yet-unwritten bill that is expected to allow President Barack Obama to force taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research.
The bill is a response to a judge’s decision saying the executive order President Barack Obama issued to mandate funding violates a federal law.
Judge Royce Lamberth’s decision said the order runs afoul of the Dickey-Wicker law Congress has approved annually since 1996, which prohibits taxpayer funding of research that destroys human embryos.
The Obama administration has appealed the decision, but pro-abortion Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado is pushing for the House to approve her bill that would essentially repeal the law and authorize the embryonic funding Obama wanted.
Douglas Johnson, the legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee, talked with LifeNews.com about the upcoming vote last week.
"The Obama White House and the congressional Democratic leadership — Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid — spent a year fighting to make sure that the massive health care bill would open doors to federal subsidies for abortion. So I guess we should not be surprised if they also think that they should now embroil Congress — with just a few remaining weeks to go in the regular session — in a contentious fight over federal funding of research that requires killing human embryos," he said.
"This is one more evidence that the priorities of the Obama White House and the congressional Democratic leadership, with respect to abortion and related issues, are far removed from those of most Americans," Johnson added.
Johnson pointed to another recent poll — this one showing Americans oppose taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research.
Only 33% of U.S. voters believe that taxpayer money should be spent on embryonic stem cell research, according to an August Rasmussen poll.
Fifty-seven percent of Americans say funding for the research, which has never helped any patients and requires the destruction of human life to facilitate, should be left to the private sector.
The Rasmussen poll found 55% of voters who identify themselves as "pro-choice" support government funding of embryonic stem cell research, but a much higher 83 percent of pro-life advocates oppose it.
Seventy-eight percent (78%) of Republicans and 62% of voters not affiliated with either major party oppose taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research. Fifty-five percent of Democrats do back forcing taxpayers to fund the destructive research.
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