Republicans and Democrats in Congress are preparing for what may be a massive battle on taxpayer funding of abortion, abortion promotion and the Planned Parenthood abortion business.
Yesterday, the House passed H.R. 2608, a continuing resolution to fund the federal government at current levels and under current conditions until November 18. The Senate passed its version of the continuing resolution last week and the final bill to fund the federal government will go to President Barack Obama for his signature.
Now, Congress has less than two months to put together another spending bill to send to Obama to keep the federal government running beyond that. In preparation for the November 18 deadline, House Republicans and Senate Democrats have prepared dramatically different appropriations bills when it comes to the issue of abortion.
Last Spring, negotiations between Republicans and democrats reached an intense fever pitch and it ended with Obama repeatedly refusing overtures from pro-life Speaker John Boehner to de-fund Planned Parenthood. Boehner succeeded in forcing Senate Democrats to vote on Planned Parenthood funding, but the chamber rejected the de-funding bill the House approved.
Now, another battle over Planned Parenthood funding and abortion funding is coming as Democrats and Republicans take a different approach on several key issues of concern to pro-life organizations.
Planned Parenthood Funding: The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) does more than 330,000 abortions annually while also receiving over $360 million in government funds (state, local and federal). In Section 524, the House Republican draft bill eliminates funding for PPFA clinics and affiliates unless they can certify that PPFA clinics and affiliates no longer provide elective abortions. However, S. 1599, the bill Senate Democrats prepared, continues funding for PPFA.
Obamacare: The House draft bill contains changes to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) that put a true ban on abortion funding in place. It modifies the Hyde Amendment to make it apply to Obamacare as well, delays implementation of Obamacare until 90 days after all legal challenges are complete, and rescinds mandatory spending for Community Health Centers that could find its way to Planned Parenthood.
Pro-Life Conscience Rights for Medical Workers: The Abortion Non-Discrimination Act, legislation introduced by Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) to protect health care entities who refuse to participate in abortion from discrimination by state, local and federal government agencies, is Section 535 of the House draft bill. The Senate version of the measure does not protect medical workers who refuse to participate in abortions.
Title X Funding: Title X is the domestic family planning program that funds Planned Parenthood and other clinics and the current funding bill sends $300 million to those clinics while Medicaid provides at least $1.4 billion in family planning assistance for low income individuals. The House draft bill eliminates Title X funding in Section 222, but does not reduce the $1.4 billion in Medicaid family planning funding while the Senate bill leaves all funding in place.
Meanwhile, Republicans and Democrats are also split when it comes to international funding and abortion.
The House State, Foreign Operations subcommittee approved a draft bill on July 27 containing pro-life provisions while Democrats in the Senate approved S. 1601 on September 21 without them.
Mexico City Policy: The House draft bill would apply the Mexico City Policy to the family planning/population control funds in the bill to ensure no taxpayer monies go to groups that perform or promote abortions in other countries. Senate Democrats, on the other hand, approved the Lautenberg Amendment, which would prohibit future Presidents from implementing the Mexico City Policy by Executive Order — something pro-life groups expect to happen if Obama is defeated next year.
UNFPA: The UNFPA is the United Nations population control agency that supports and participates in the management of China’s brutal one child policy, that has resulted in forced abortions, coercive sterilizations and other human rights abuses. UNFPA was de-funded throughout the administration of pro-life President George W. Bush but funding was restored when Obama took office. Since then, $145 million in taxpayer funds have been allocated for UNFPA despite their participation in China’s population control efforts. The House Republican bill would prohibit funding for UNFPA for 2012 while Senate Democrats give the agency the same $40 million it received in 2011.
International Population Control: International Family Planning/Population Control funding is a primary funding stream for foreign non-governmental organizations hat promote and perform abortion as a method of family planning overseas — including organizations that work to overturn life-affirming laws in pro-life nations. Such groups received $575 million in 2011 and House Republicans cut that number to $461 million while Senate Democrats raise it to $700 million.
Finally, Boehner, in the Spring, won in the negotiations with Obama and the Democrats the reinstatement of the ban on taxpayer funding of abortions in the District of Columbia. House Republicans approved H.R. 2434 on June 23 that keeps the ban in place while Senate Democrats approved S. 1573 on September 15 that omits the ban.