By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 8, 2009 ( – President Obama’s budget recommendations unveiled yesterday are being criticized by the National Right to Life Committee for recommending the re-introduction of taxpayer-funded abortion in Washington, D.C. 

The White House submission urges the House and Senate to repeal a law known as the Dornan Amendment that prevents tax-funded abortion, except for cases of rape, incest, or threat to the mother’s life, in the District of Columbia for several years. 

Because Congress holds legislative authority over the District of Columbia, the district’s budget must be appropriated by Congress through an annual appropriations bill.  The White House called for the ban to be replaced with a requirement that would apply only to funds specifically contributed for federal program purposes.
“If Congress goes along with the Obama proposal, the predictable result will be tax funding of several thousand elective abortions annually, including roughly 1,000 abortions annually that would not otherwise occur,” said Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC). 

“Any member of Congress who votes for a bill that contains the White House proposal is, in reality, voting for tax-funded abortion on demand with congressionally appropriated funds.”

From 1988 until 1993, Congress annually included the ban until it was lost for three years, then restored in 1996.  While the ban was not in effect, congressional debates cited evidence that indicated the city’s abortion-funding policy was among the most permissive in the nation.  Elizabeth Reveal, D.C. budget director at the time, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that “the District’s government has a policy of funding abortion on demand and does not attempt to determine the circumstances of the pregnancy.”

Academic studies by pro-abortion groups demonstrate that policies barring tax-funded abortions prevent one-third or more of the abortions that would otherwise occur among the covered populations. 

“The abortion industry’s own studies suggest that many thousands of residents of the nation’s capital are alive today because of the abortion funding ban that President Obama now proposes to repeal,” said NRLC’s Johnson.
“Today’s White House action is one more evidence that President Obama is trying to pull off a massive policy scam – he generates a smokescreen of soothing rhetoric about seeking ‘common ground’ and ‘abortion reduction,’ while step by step advancing concrete policies that will substantially increase the number of abortions – and pay for abortion on demand with everyone’s taxes,” Johnson concluded. 

The State and Foreign Operations proposed budget notes the administration’s plan to provide $50 million to United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).  Under the proposed change, all of the language governing UNFPA funding is deleted, including provisions to prevent U.S. funds from being used in China, and stipulating that the UNFPA cannot fund abortion.  However, the proposal keeps the Kemp-Kasten provision, which prohibits funds to any organization that “supports or participates in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.”

President Bush had ceased funding the UNFPA in 2001 when an official investigation backed up a report by the Population Reasearch Institute (PRI) that the UNFPA’s involvement in China did nothing to improve, and may even worsen, the country’s forced sterilizations, forced abortions, and crippling one-child-policy fines.  PRI has challenged Obama’s decision to resume funding to the UNFPA, citing an investigation earlier this year that confirmed UNFPA is complicit in China’s worsening population control techniques.

Other changes revealed in Obama’s new budget include a loosening of language governing funding for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), now allowing LSC grantees to conduct litigation involving abortion.  Under the proposed change, only direct funding of abortion litigation would be prohibited, but LSC grantees could shift other funds to a separate account for abortion activities. Pro-life groups have opposed this arrangement because under a similar arrangement in place from FY86-95, federally supported LSC grantees actively litigated against pro-life laws. 

Also, funding for the Title X familly planning program, which funds Planned Parenthood, is increased by $10 million to a total of $317 million.

See related articles:

Commentary: Obama Supports Kidnapping

On-the-Ground China Investigation Re-Confirms UNFPA Complicit in Coercive One-Child Policy

U.S. Dept. of State Announces $50 Million Contribution to UNFPA