Democrats Fail to Challenge Pro-Life Budget Provisions on Abortion

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 17, 2011   |   11:20AM   |   Washington, DC

House Democrats were expected to press for amendments to overturn pro-life budget provisions during last night’s debate on the continuing resolution in the House of Representatives.

Instead, while they attacked during debate the pro-life provisions in the bill to cut Title X family planning funds, restore and make permanent the Mexico City Policy, and yank funding for the pro-abortion UNFPA, they introduced none of the expected amendments.

The House is taking up the bill to fund the federal government in a section by section process that only allows for amendments when the appropriate section is reached in debate. When the House came to the right section, abortion advocates were expected to offer as many as six amendments in an attempt to push taxpayers to fund abortions or groups that promote and perform abortions.

Two amendments, expected from pro-abortion Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Joseph Crowley, both of New York, would have restored the $55 million in taxpayer funding to the UNFPA, which pro-life groups have opposed because it promotes abortion globally and has worked hand-in-hand with the Chinese officials using forced abortions to institute the one-child policy.

Two more amendments, from Crowley, were supposed to have overturned the Mexico City Policy. The budget bill House Republicans put together restores and makes permanent the Mexico City Policy language that presidents normally put in place by executive order to ensure tax dollars meant for programs for the poor don’t flow to groups like International Planned Parenthood to use to pressure other nations to endorse abortion in their laws or to do abortions globally. President Barack Obama overturned the policy, the budget bill restored it and Crowley’s amendment would have kept Obama’s pro-abortion decision in place.

Also, Rep. Nita Lowey, a pro-abortion New York Democrat, and Rep. Kathy Castor, a pro-abortion Florida Democrat, had amendments they were expected to file that would have restored the $317 million in Title X family planning funds that the Republican budget bill scrapped. Pro-life groups oppose the funding because a significant portion of it goes to the Planned Parenthood abortion business.

But those amendments never came.

There are a number of theories as to why abortion advocates didn’t bring the amendments. They could have been worried about the black eye they would suffer politically by losing lopsided votes on the issues thanks to the new strongly pro-life House of Representatives. That appears the most likely reason — since the lopsided pro-life and GOP majority is the best pro-life scenario since Roe.

They could be placing their trust in Senate Democrats or the conference committee process to remove the pro-life provisions and keep the abortion and abortion group funding mechanisms in place.

Abortion advocates may be putting their eggs in the basket of not fixing the bill so they can rally opposition to the final measure and talk about how it makes changes they don’t like — though with such a strong Republican majority that seems unlikely. They also could be hoping Obama will veto the continuing resolution bill — though that would complicate the Democrats’ political position by forcing a government shutdown next month.

Or, the pro-abortion Democrats may have legitimately made a mistake.

On Tuesday, pro-abortion District of Columbia Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton was supposed to have introduced an amendment to the continuing resolution to strike the pro-life provision ensuring no taxpayer funding of abortions in the nation’s capital. With a bevy of pro-abortion lawmakers on the floor, it appears she forgot to show up, as reports indicate she never made it to the House floor.

Last night, while Lowey and pro-abortion colleagues debated her amendment at length, Lowey appeared confused, didn’t appear to know what was going on, and never called up her amendment.

Amendments that pertain to certain sections of the bill can’t be brought up at the end of the reading of the bill, which is where the House stands now. Only amendments that are bill-wide, like the one pro-life Rep. Mike Pence will bring up to ensure no government funds in any department go to Planned Parenthood, can be brought up now. Perhaps abortion advocates mistakenly thought their amendments could be brought up at this point in the debate.

Either way — whether the decision to not bring up the amendments was a mistake or purposeful strategy — the end result is a victory for the pro-life movement by automatically winning what could have been potential votes on pro-abortion amendments. The budget process is far from over, but the first skirmish goes to the pro-life side.

The debate last night mostly centered on the Lowey amendment to restore the family planning funds and it brought up some curious quotes from lawmakers.

Rep. Mike Quigley said family planning programs would lower the abortion rate even though research shows that’s not the case.

Rep. Lois Capps of California said a vote against Title X is a vote for more cancer, diseases and abortions — using an attack on pro-life advocates that was particularly below the belt.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas implied that giving more money to Planned Parenthood, the abortion business, would mean more children would be born.

And Rep. Gwen Moore of Wisconsin said ensuring more family planning funding, much of which flows to the abortion industry, would lower child mortality.