House: Obamacare Can’t Fund Abortion Training for Med Students

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 25, 2011   |   1:59PM   |   Washington, DC

The House of Representatives voted today to ensure that taxpayer funds can’t be used under the Obamacare health care law to pay for abortion training for medical students at federally-funded health centers.

The House voted 234-182 for the Foxx Amendment to stop the abortion funding with Republicans voting 221-10 for the amendment and Democrats voting 172-13 against it.

The Obamacare law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, created direct funding for graduate medical education in qualified teaching health centers which are defined as community based, ambulatory patient care centers that operate a primary care residency program. Title X clinics are specifically listed as eligible grantees and obstetrics/gynecology is one of the specific training areas.

House Republicans promoted a bill, HR 1216, to remove the direct funding stream for this program and instead make funding for qualified teaching health centers contingent on annual appropriations.

Rep. Virginia Foxx, a pro-life Republican from North Carolina, proposed an amendment to ensure none of the funds authorized for qualified teaching health centers can be used to pay for “abortion or training in the provision of abortions.” The amendment also protects conscience rights by making sure funds are not made available to any teaching health center that discriminates against individual or institutional health care entities on the basis that the entity does not “provide, pay for provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.”

Foxx said taxpayer dollars should not be used to pay for abortion training; and training centers that discriminate against pro-life students, doctors and nurses are not the kind of centers that should be selected to provide training under this program.

“When the ruling Democrats passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) last Congress, they did so without the common-sense pro-life protections that many of their Members had supported in the past. In a CNN poll conducted last month, more than 60% of Americans said they opposed taxpayer funding for abortion,” Foxx said.

“Today, House Republicans are continuing our efforts to repeal and defund the mandatory appropriations included in PPACA by restoring Congressional oversight for the teaching health centers residency grant program. This program provides grants for teaching health centers to establish or expand their residency programs. Because PPACA does not include pro-life protections, this program could be used to train abortion providers or pay for abortions. This is contrary to the wishes of the American people and many of my constituents,” Foxx continued. “The bill will make the teaching health centers residency grant program subject to annual appropriations and the Hyde amendment which prohibits federal funding for abortions in the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations legislation.  However, my firm belief is that new authorizations should have a permanent prohibition on abortion rather than solely relying on a policy that must be annually reapproved.”

“Therefore, today I will offer an amendment to ensure that none of the taxpayer funds in the teaching health center residency grant program are being used to pay for abortions, train abortion doctors, or awarded to recipients that discriminate against pro-life health care providers,” Foxx told her colleagues. “My amendment is simple and straightforward – it prohibits funds in this program paying for abortions or training in the provision of abortions. Congress must restore responsibility and accountability to government spending and that includes speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves.”

“If adopted this amendment will provide a permanent prohibition for taxpayer funded abortions and abortion training in the teaching health centers residency grant program. I urge you to support my amendment during consideration of H.R. 1216 today and protect the rights of unborn children and pro-life health care providers,” she added.

Following the vote, Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said that the Foxx Amendment “would bar qualified teaching health centers from using federal funds for comprehensive medical training that includes instruction in the provision of abortion services,” which she characterized as “an unprecedented restriction on medical training” that “would limit drastically doctors’ ability to receive comprehensive and necessary instruction in reproductive-health care . . .”

The National Right to Life Committee applauded the vote, calling it a significant pro-life victory to prohibit discrimination against pro-life health care providers by “teaching health centers” that receive certain federal funds for graduate medical education.

“The reaction of Planned Parenthood and NARAL to the Foxx Amendment makes it crystal clear that they want the federal taxpayer to fund training of the next generation of abortionists,” said NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson. “In fact, pro-abortion activists are also trying to make it impossible to become certified in and to practice in some medical fields without participating in providing abortions. Stronger federal anti-discrimination laws are needed to counter these efforts, especially since the Obama Administration has severely weakened enforcement of the existing protective laws.”