WASHINGTON, D.C., January 14, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – House Republicans are once again moving to stop the federal funding of abortions, including in the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
Last Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice held a hearing about H.R. 7, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.”
Introduced May 14, 2013 by Rep. Chris Smith, R-NJ, the bill would make numerous changes to federal law, including codifying the annually-approved Hyde Amendment. The Hyde Amendment has prevented federal funding for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest, or threat to the life of the mother, in the United States since 1976.
On Wednesday, the Judiciary Committee officially begins its “markup” (the amendment and debate process for moving a bill through Congress) of the pro-life bill. A House Judiciary aide told LifeSiteNews.com that this will start at 10:15 a.m. tomorrow and could last for most of the day.
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During the process a variety of amendments will be proposed and voted on, before a final committee vote. With Republicans the dominant party in the House, the bill's passage through the Committee is nearly a foregone conclusion, but it could be modified by amendments.
However, the bill is unlikely to pass through the Senate. President Obama has threatened a veto of the legislation in past years.
At last week’s hearing, Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-VA, noted the importance of the Hyde Amendment to life in America. Citing the Congressional Budget Office's estimate that as many as 675,000 abortions have been prevented every year due to the Hyde Amendment, Goodlatte said: “The policy we are discussing today has likely given America the gift of millions more children…millions more mothers, and millions more fathers, millions more lifetimes, and trillions more loving gestures and other human gifts in all their diverse forms.”
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has also formally backed H.R. 7.
In testimony to the committee last week, Richard M. Doerflinger, the Associate Director of the USCCB Secretariat of ProLife Activities, said that “H.R. 7 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 its funding power to support or promote abortion.”
Doerflinger cited multiple studies showing men and women alike, as well as supporters and opponents of abortion, are in favor of not requiring taxpayers to fund abortions. (Doerflinger's testimony may be seen at full here)
One controversial section of HR7 would stop public funding for abortions in the District of Columbia.
Democrats, including District non-voting Member of Congress Eleanor Norton, are claiming H.R. 7 violates “The Home Rule Act of 1973,” in which Congress handed control of the District, with some exceptions, over to a local government. Norton argued in a recent press release that “the right to reproductive choice was not among those exceptions.”
Sponsors and supporters of the bill disagree. One GOP aide told LifeSiteNews.com that the Act “preserves Congress’s authority of the D.C. budget,” and all that all H.R. 7 does “is place limits on the use of all federal funds, including those Congress appropriates for D.C. So there's no conflict between the Home Rule Act and H.R. 7.”
The aide also said that “there are no separate 'local government funds' in D.C, and all D.C. budgets must be authorized by Congress. D.C. is a purely federal entity, made distinctly so by the Constitution.”