The Senate voted Thursday afternoon on a pro-life bill that would permanently ban taxpayer funding of abortions. However, pro-abortion Senate Democrats successfully filibustered the bill and prevented Senate Republicans from moving ahead to a final vote on the legislation.
U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, and James Lankford, R-Okla., introduced the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2019,” S. 109. The measure would establish a permanent, government-wide prohibition of taxpayer funding for abortion.
Similar policies, such as the Hyde Amendment, currently require annual passage and do not apply to Obamacare.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell filed cloture on the bill and the Senate voted against ending debate. Senate Democrats, who almost all support abortion, prevented the bill from garnering the 60 votes it needed to move forward. This was be the first time the bill has received consideration in the U.S. Senate.
Democrat Sens. Bob Casey and Joe Manchin voted for the funding ban, while pro-abortion Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski voted against the measure, which was defeated 48-47.
During a speech on the Senate floor, prime sponsor Senator Ricker Wicker said his legislation would establish a permanent, government-wide prohibition of taxpayer funding for abortion.
Wicker referenced recent polling from Marist that suggests American attitudes on abortion, and federal funding for abortion, are changing.
“As each year passes, as more and more parents see that sonogram… we see the feet, and we see the heartbeat. We see the faces of these children. We realize as Americans… that this is a living human that deserves protection,” Wicker said.
The legislation establishes a permanent, government-wide prohibition on federal funding for abortion, prohibits federal subsidies in the form of Obamacare tax credits for health plans that include abortion, and strengthens disclosure requirements for plans that include abortion.
The sponsors of the pro-life bill talked about the importance of permanently banning abortion funding.
“Millions of Americans oppose the use of federal dollars to support abortion,” Wicker said. “As thousands gather in our nation’s capital this week to March for Life, it is well-past time Congress passed a comprehensive solution to the patchwork of regulations prohibiting federal funding for abortion services. Our legislation would create a permanent, government-wide prohibition on abortion funding so that not one taxpayer dollar goes toward the destruction of innocent human life.”
“Millions of Americans do not want to use their hard-earned money to cover abortion services,” said Roberts. “Currently, under Obamacare, many Americans unknowingly pay for abortion services covered under their health care plan. Our bill will permanently prohibit any taxpayer dollar from being used to pay for abortions and protect the rights for consumers to choose an insurance plan that is in line with their beliefs and values.”
“Regardless of Americans’ beliefs on the issue of life, one thing remains clear: the federal government does not need to help fund abortions,” said Lankford. “The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act ensures that Americans who strongly disagree with abortions are not forced to pay for them with their federal tax dollars. We must continue to take steps to move our nation and our culture closer to holding all human lives sacred regardless of a person’s size or degree of dependency. This bill brings us closer to that goal. As the Chairman of the Senate Values Action Team, I am proud to join my colleagues to continue to value life at all stages and ensure our nation also protects women and their important healthcare needs. We can and should do both.”
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In addition to establishing a government-wide ban on federal funding for abortion, the legislation would:
- Prohibit funding for health benefits coverage that includes coverage of abortion with funds authorized or appropriated by Federal law;
- Prohibit abortion in federal health facilities (such as DOD and VA hospitals) and ensure that no federal employee provides abortion services in the course of their employment;
- Make permanent the provisions of the DC Hyde Amendment, or the Dornan Amendment, which clarifies that the federal provisions regarding abortion funding also apply to the government of the District of Columbia;
- Ensure that elective abortion is not deductible for tax purposes by amending Section 213 of the Internal Revenue Code; and
- Ensure that Affordable Care Act premium assistance subsidies provided in the form of refundable advanceable tax credits are not used to pay for health insurance plans that include abortion, except in cases of rape, incest, or the life of the mother.
The legislation also includes a provision championed by Sen. Roberts requiring that all plans offered by Obamacare exchanges disclose whether a plan includes coverage of elective abortion procedures, as well as the abortion surcharge embedded into abortion-covering plans.
In addition to Wicker, Roberts, and Lankford, S. 109 is co-sponsored by 32 other senators including: John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Mike Braun, R-Ind., Bill Cassidy, R-La., Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Steve Daines, R-Mont., Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., James Inhofe, R-Okla., Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., John Kennedy, R-La., Mike Lee, R-Utah, Jerry Moran, R-Kan., David Perdue, R-Ga., James Risch, R-Idaho, Mitt Romney, R-Utah, Marco Rubio, R-Fla., John Thune, R-S.D., Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., Todd Young, R-Ind., John Hoeven, R-N.D., Tim Scott, R-S.C., Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Ben Sasse, R-Neb., John Cornyn, R-Texas, Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and Thom Tillis, R-N.C.