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WASHINGTON, February 10, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The U.S. bishops are supporting the No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion Act (H.R. 3) because a permanent ban on abortion funding is long overdue, a representative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) told a U.S. House subcommittee this week.

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“H.R. 3 will write into permanent law a policy on which there has been strong popular and congressional agreement for over 35 years: The federal government should not use tax dollars to support or promote elective abortion,” said Richard Doerflinger, associate director of the USCCB Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, in testimony before the House Subcommittee on the Constitution of the House Judiciary Committee February 8.

“Since 1976 this principle has been embodied in the Hyde amendment to annual appropriations bills funding the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and in numerous similar provisions governing a wide range of domestic and foreign programs.  It has consistently had the support of the American people.”

Doerflinger noted that support for the Hyde amendment is so broad that many have assumed it is already a permanent part of federal law. In fact it is only a rider on the annual Labor/HHS appropriations bill, applying only to funds under that act. H.R. 3 aims to codify existing pro-life annual riders banning federal funding of abortion.

Doerflinger also highlighted the need for more secure protection for the conscience rights of health care providers who do not participate in abortion, citing the substantial role of Catholic hospitals in providing health care in the United States.

“If Congress wants to expand rather than eliminate access to life-saving health care, particularly for the poor and underserved, it should be concerned about any effort to attack the rights of these providers and undermine their continued ability to serve the common good,” said Doerflinger.

Since regaining the majority of seats last November, GOP House members have begun launching a series of pro-life bills aimed at curtailing government involvement in abortion. The Protect Life Act, introduced by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA), was debated before the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on health on Wednesday. It would amend the federal health care law (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) to prevent federal funding for abortion or abortion coverage through government exchanges, community health centers, or any other program funded or created by PPACA.

The full testimony can be found online here. www.usccb.org/prolife/HR3-testimony-2011-02-08.pdf

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