House Speaker John Boehner and a bipartisan group of pro-life members of Congress held a press conference this morning to launch two bills prohibiting government funding for abortion. The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act and the Protect Life Act were officially introduced today.
Congressman Chris Smith of New jersey said the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act will “eliminate the need for numerous, separate, annual abortion funding prohibitions (riders) and ensure that no other program or agency is exempt from this important safeguard. The bill also codifies the conscience clause known as Hyde-Weldon.”
When it comes to taxpayer funding of abortions from the federal government, pro-life advocates have to wage a set of battles annually to ensure abortion funding isn’t present in various funding bills — from HHS and USAID to health care and the District of Columbia. What if all of the provisions against abortion funding could be rolled into one piece of legislation ensuring the federal government is not funding elective abortions?
That was the question Smith and pro-life Democrat Bill Lipinski of Illinois answered with their legislation.
Smith said President Barack Obama has called for abortions to be rare and noted that the Guttmacher Institute, the pro-abortion former arm of Planned Parenthood, has noted that taxpayer funding of abortions increases the number of abortions done annually.
Meanwhile, pro-life Rep. Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania, who heads a key subcommittee that will begin dismantling Obamacare, introduced the Protect Life Act, which will amend the health care reform law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, to ensure there is no funding for abortion or abortion coverage.
“The law currently does not include a comprehensive prohibition on such funding. Instead the bill contains accounting gimmicks that explicitly allow funding for abortion coverage,” Pitts said. “The Obama Executive Order reiterates those accounting gimmicks. Without the “Protect Life Act,” PPACA will become the largest expansion of abortion funding since Roe v. Wade.”
Boehner and Leader Eric Cantor appeared at the press conference to lend their support to the legislation and said the Pledge to America that Republicans introduced during the 2010 election called for stopping taxpayer funding of abortions.
Boehner said, “Today we’re here to talk about keeping another commitment to the people – and that is ensuring their tax dollars are never used to fund abortions.”
“A ban on taxpayer funding of abortion is the will of the people and ought to be the law of the land. But current law – particularly as enforced by this Administration – does not reflect the will of the peopl.,” he added. “This common-sense legislation reflects the will of the people and deserves the support of the House. It is one of our highest legislative priorities. As such, I have directed that it receive the designation of H.R. 3. I appreciate Congressman Smith’s steadfast leadership on this critical issue.”
The National Right to Life Committee told LifeNews.com afterwards that it strongly supports the legislation.
“Public opinion is strongly against federal subsidies for abortion, and any member of Congress who is truly opposed to federal funding of abortion will vote for both of these bills,” said NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson. “If President Obama seeks to obstruct these bills, that will provide additional glaring evidence that his professions of opposition to public funding of abortion are phony.”
The Susan B. Anthony List also applauded the introduction of two bills in the House this morning, noting that they come just two days before the 38th anniversary of the tragic Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision. Nearly 40,000 pro-life activists have signed the SBA List’s Stop Abortion Funding petition calling for passage of legislation that ends taxpayer funding of abortion.
“Congress received marching orders from the American people last November to end taxpayer funding of abortion,” SBA List president Marjorie Dannenfelser told LifeNews.com.
“The bills introduced today by Representatives Joe Pitts (R-PA), Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Dan Lipinski (D-IL) would get the job done. The 112th Congress understands the urgency of addressing the tragedy of nearly 4,000 abortions per day, over 52 million total since Roe v. Wade. Now is the time to pass laws that save lives and end taxpayer funding of abortion,” she said.
During the press conference, Smith said the House must also take up a third bill, sponsored by Congressman Mike Pence, that would de-fund the Planned Parenthood abortion business and prevent it from getting tens of millions of dollars annually from the federal government because it does more abortions than any other company in the United States.
NARAL a top pro-abortion group, criticized the introduction of the legislation.
“These anti-choice politicians are out of touch with Americans’ values and priorities,” Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL, claimed.
But Family Research Council president Tony Perkins said both bills necessary given the actions of the previous Congress to fund abortion in health care, and in the District of Columbia.
“Government funding for abortion is both morally and fiscally irresponsible, which is why more than two-thirds of Americans oppose such funding,” he told LifeNews.com.
The rest of his emailed comment follows:
“We applaud Reps. Smith and Lipinski for introducing the ‘No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act’ to restore and codify abortion funding restrictions across the federal government, including funding for abortion in health care and funding for abortion in the nation’s capital approved last year. The bill would also prevent government funding of abortion overseas. FRC also thanks Rep. Pitts for introducing the ‘Protect Life Act’ to remove abortion funding from the Obama health care law. Both bills would codify conscience protections for health care workers who object to abortion.
“There is no question that abortion funding exists within the Obama health bill. Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, admitted earlier this week that the President’s executive order supposedly prohibiting federal abortion funding does ‘not exist by law.’ Indeed, we know that several states approved funding for abortion in the new high risk pool program, and that several other provisions would subsidize abortion because they bypass the 30-year old Hyde amendment. The fact that Congress also approved funding for abortion in D.C. shows the need for a government-wide ban.
“Americans, regardless of their view on the legal question of abortion, should not be forced to pay for abortions.
“Members of Congress who claim to be ‘moderate’ on abortion must support the Smith-Lipinski bill to make these abortion funding restrictions permanent law and apply them across the federal government.
“We applaud Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor for their support for these bills. We urge quick action to restore abortion funding neutrality and protect the conscience rights of the American people.”
Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life also commented on the bills, adding:
“When polls show that 60 to more than 70 percent of the American public agree that the government should not pay for abortions, I think that qualifies as ‘common ground.’ The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act expresses the will of the people. It will save money, but more importantly, it will save lives.”
“Priests for Life will activate all its communications outlets and hundreds of thousands of supporters to lobby strongly for this legislation, and to challenge abortion advocates to explain why what they consider a matter of choice should be funded by force.”