Americans Will be Forced to Fund Abortions in the Nation’s Capital if D.C. Becomes a State

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 20, 2021   |   3:16PM   |   Washington, DC

Democrats have flirted with the idea of making Washington D.C. a state for decades, but the possibility is back on the table now that Democrats control both branches of Congress and the White House again.

Some liberal leaders on Capitol Hill want to strike while the iron is hot and make the capital district a state, which would virtually guarantee three more pro-abortion Democrat members in Congress, including two additional liberal senators who would make it incredibly difficult for Republicans to retake the Senate.

Aside from the partisan reasons most Republicans oppose making Washington a state, not to mention the obvious Constitutional problems, a leading pro-life group says there is a pro-life reason to keep the District of Columbia from statehood as well.

The National Right to Life Committee says statehood would result in Americans being forced to pay for killing babies in abortions with their tax dollars. The following is a letter NRLC just sent members of the House urging a no vote on statehood:

Dear Representative,

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This week, the House will consider H.R. 51 which purports to grant statehood to the District of Columbia. National Right to Life urges you to oppose the bill and reserves the right to include a House roll call on this measure in our scorecard of key pro-life votes of the 117th Congress.

Article I of the U.S. Constitution says that Congress holds complete legislative authority over the District of Columbia (“exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever”). That is why the entire budget for the District of Columbia (including revenues generated by local sources) is and has been appropriated by Congress through an annual appropriations bill.

The Dornan Amendment, or the “D.C. Hyde Amendment,” prohibits the use of government funds to pay for abortion in the Federal District (except to save the life of the mother, or in cases of rape or incest). For decades (with brief interruptions), this policy has been part of the annual appropriations bill that covers the District.

In 2009, Democrats succeeded in temporarily repealing the amendment for a period of 2 years. During that time, taxpayers were known to have paid for at least 300 abortions in Washington, D.C.

If H.R. 51 were to take effect, the predictable result will be tax funding of hundreds (if not more) of elective abortions in D.C. annually.

In general terms, the Hyde Amendment has long prohibited direct federal funding of abortion (with narrow exceptions) in the numerous federal programs, including Medicaid. However, a minority of states (15) use state dollars to fund elective abortion for Medicaid recipients. Should D.C. gain statehood, we would expect it to quickly join these states in paying for elective abortion.

Further, setting aside the abortion implications of H.R. 51, it is unlikely that Congress can make D.C. a state without a constitutional amendment. Justice Departments under both Democratic and Republican administrations have consistently (and nearly universally) agreed that statehood for D.C. cannot be accomplished by a simple majority vote in Congress. Congress has only those powers that are enumerated in the Constitution, mainly in Article I, section 8, and Congress has no power to create a fifty-first state from the present District of Columbia. Additionally, per Article IV, Section 3, it is likely that Maryland would need to agree separately that the land it originally ceded to create the District could now become a separate state.

Thank you for your consideration of NRLC’s position on this matter.

Respectfully submitted,

That’s hundreds of babies saved every year from abortion if D.C. does not become a state.