The House of Representatives may vote as early as next week on legislation that would institute a government-wide ban on any direct taxpayer funding of abortions in any federal departments or programs.
The legislation enjoys the strong support of pro-life groups because it makes the ban federal law and pro-life lawmakers don’t have to find annual battles to renew several pro-life provisions covering various programs where taxpayer funding of abortions could take place. At the end of March, a second House committee voted 22 to 14 to give approval to a companion bill to the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” HR 3, thereby setting up a vote on the House floor.
In February, the House Judiciary Committee approved the main bill on a mostly partisan 23-14 vote. The committee also removed a provision concerning forcible rape that abortion advocates had used to misconstrue the intent of the legislation.
The party-line vote saw Republicans on the panel supporting the measure and Democrats on the committee voting against it, with the exception of Puerto Rico Del. Pedro Pierluisi.
Although the House is expected to sign off on the pro-life legislation, the Senate will present problems since pro-abortion Democrats control the chamber. Pro-life senators may have to attempt to attach the language of the bill to another measure and would likely have to find 60 votes to cut off debate and end what would be a potential filibuster from abortion advocates.
National Right to Life Committee legislative director Douglas Johnson says the bill is a critical priority for pro-life advocates to avoid losing bans on taxpayer funding of abortion in certain circumstances every time Congress changes hands. Recently, Speaker John Boehner had to negotiate a budget deal with President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats to get the ban on tax-funded abortions reinstated in the District of Columbia. If Mayor Vincent Gray follows through on implementing the ban, it could save the lives of hundreds of unborn children who were aborted with Obama and Democrats took the ban off the books last year.
“For over 30 years, Congress has conducted debates on federal funding of abortion nearly every year, during consideration of annual appropriations bills,” Johnson said. “The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 3) would settle the issue, by permanently prohibiting funding of abortion in any federal program.”
“The bill would make permanent the Hyde Amendment, which has prevented federal funding of elective abortion in the Medicaid program since 1976,” Johnson added. “By conservative estimate, more than one million Americans are alive today because of the Hyde Amendment. If the principles of the Hyde amendment are applied in permanent, government-wide fashion, the lifesaving effects we have already seen will be multiplied.”
Johnson says Boehner and other House Republican leaders “should be commended for making a strong effort to lock in a policy that protects innocent human life and has broad public support” but he is worried about further attacks on the legislation from abortion advocates, who have already attacked the bill on false charges as supposedly not allowing abortion funding for all women who are victims of rape and incest because of changes to the definition of rape under the bill. However, the changed language has been dropped from the bill, neutralizing the issue.
“Because they know that public opinion is strongly opposed to federal funding for abortion, opponents of the bill have fabricated various far-fetched interpretations, including the claim that bill will deny access to abortion for women whose lives would thereby be endangered. This is false — there is nothing in the bill that changes current law in this respect. The bill explicitly allows funding of abortion to save the life of the mother,” Johnson explained.
The bill faces an uphill path to enactment in this Congress, because of anticipated opposition from Obama, Johnson notes.
“When he ran for president, Barack Obama called for repeal of the Hyde Amendment, and in 2009 he helped block strong language from being added to the health care bill to prevent federal subsidies for abortion. Yet, the bill would reinforce a policy that has strong public support — Americans oppose public funding of abortion by a margin of 61% to 35%, according to a CNN poll conducted in early April,” he said.
ACTION: Contact members of the House to support the taxpayer funding of abortion ban at https://www.house.gov