Ban on Tax-Funded Abortions in Nation’s Capital Looks Safe

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 16, 2011   |   11:45AM   |   Washington, DC

It looks like the attempt to renew the ban on taxpayer funding of abortions in the nation’s capital is safe — thanks to the failure of the District’s representative to file an amendment to challenge it.

When House Republicans put forward HR 1, the continuing resolution bill to fund the federal government for FY2011, they put language in the legislation to restore the ban on taxpayer funding of abortions in the District of Columbia that Obama and House Democrats overturned when they controlled the chamber.

Yesterday, the House began considering a large number of amendments to the budget bill and it completed consideration of the Financial Services Title — which includes funding for the District of Columbia. The House is considering the bill under a process by which lawmakers must float any amendments to the bill when the appropriate section comes up for debate and discussion.

Although Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the pro-abortion member of Congress from D.C., met the requirement to submit her expected amendment to fund abortions with taxpayer funds in the nation’s capital, she did not offer the amendment during the reading of the appropriate section. Thus, it appears the Norton amendment on D.C. abortion funding will not be considered by the House and the final version of the continuing resolution bill will contain the abortion funding ban.

This is a victory for pro-life advocates after the Senate passed, in December, its own continuing resolution that kept the District of Columbia abortion funding in place.

In December of 2009, Democrats initially approved an omnibus spending bill lifting the 13-year-long ban on directly paying for abortions in the nation’s capital and Obama eventually signed the measure.

Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Thad Cochran of Mississippi and Richard Shelby of Alabama sided with Democrats to move ahead to a vote on the 2009 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.

National Right to Life Committee legislative director Douglas Johnson wrote to members of Congress at that time urging them to oppose the bill because of the abortion funding in the District of Columbia and said the number of abortions in the nation’s capital would increase by 1,000 annually because of the taxpayer funding.

“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 noted back then. “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.”