U.S. House Passes Permanent Ban on Federal Funding of Abortion

WASHINGTON — The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), the nationwide federation of right-to-life organizations, today commended the 251 members of the U.S. House of Representatives who voted to pass the landmark No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 3), but directed sharp criticism at President Obama and at the 175 House members (all of them Democrats) who voted against the bill.

“There are over one million Americans who are alive today because of the Hyde Amendment policy – but President Obama, although he claims to seek abortion reduction, continues to work against that policy,” said NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson.  “The White House veto threat demonstrates yet again that President Obama is determined to expand federal subsidies for abortion on demand – despite his verbal smokescreens.  The 175 House Democrats who voted against the bill will be firmly marked as supporters of federal subsidies for elective abortion.” 

The bill was supported by 235 Republicans and 16 Democrats.  It was opposed by 175 Democrats.

In a candid opinion piece titled “Time to Stand Up for Abortion Funding,” published today on a blog operated by The Hill, a Capitol Hill newspaper, Jessica Arons – who is director of the Women’s Health and Rights Program at the Center for American Progress (a nonprofit organization with very close ties to the Obama White House) – called on pro-abortion members of Congress to drop the pretext that they do not seek to establish federal funding of abortion.  “First, stop referring to the Hyde Amendment as an ‘historic compromise’ or ‘settled law’,” Arons advised.  “Such language only reinforces the misconception that abortion funding restrictions are necessary and proper. They are not. . . . .  Finally, mount a full-throated defense of public funding for abortion – or rather of comprehensive health care that includes abortion coverage, regardless of the funding source.”   (http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/politics/159173-time-to-stand-up-for-abortion-funding)

For many years, federal funding of abortion has been limited by a patchwork of laws – many of which expire annually, because they are incorporated into annual appropriations bills.  The best known is the Hyde Amendment, but this law applies only to funds that flow through the annual Health and Human Services appropriations bill, and it expires annually.  The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) (“Obamacare”), enacted in 2010, opened new pipelines for federal funding of abortion, which are not governed by the Hyde Amendment or any other statutory restriction (see http://www.nrlc.org/AHC/ProtectLifeActDouglasJohnsonTestimony.pdf).  H.R. 3 would codify the principles of the Hyde Amendment on a permanent, government-wide basis, applicable to both longstanding federal health programs and to the new programs created by the PPACA.

Further details on specific components of H.R. 3, including conscience protections for pro-life health care providers and a provision applying to the District of Columbia, are found in NRLC’s May 3 letter to the House of Representatives (http://www.nrlc.org/AHC/NRLCLetterToHouseOnHR3.pdf), and in a Q&A factsheet issued by the office of Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), the prime sponsor of H.R. 3 (http://chrissmith.house.gov/UploadedFiles/2011_Q_and_A.pdf).

 The National Right to Life Committee is the nation’s largest pro-life group with affiliates in all 50 states and over 3,000 local chapters nationwide. National Right to Life works through legislation and education to protect those threatened by abortion, infanticide, euthanasia and assisted suicide.

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