WASHINGTON, D.C., January 20, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Two major bipartisan pieces of pro-life legislation were unveiled on Capitol Hill today that would eliminate abortion funding from all federal programs and prevent the new health care reform law from subsidizing abortion procedures. Planned Parenthood is alarmed and “ready for a very serious fight”.
At a morning press conference, US Reps. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), co-chairs of the bipartisan Pro-Life Caucus, along with Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Penn.), Chairman of the Health Subcommittee on Energy and Commerce, unveiled the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” and the “Protect Life Act.”
The “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” (HR 3) would establish a permanent government-wide ban on federal funding of abortion, replacing the need for annual funding prohibitions or “riders” like the Hyde Amendment, which are always one Congress away from expiring. The bill also codifies the Hyde-Weldon conscience clause, which prohibits hospitals and health care workers from being forced to perform abortions, but gives its enforcement more teeth.
“Our new bill is designed to permanently end any US government financial support for abortion whether it be direct funding or by tax credits or any other subsidy,” Smith said in his remarks.
“President Obama has said he wants abortion to be rare. Well, Mr. Obama, here is a bill for you,” he added. “Even the Guttmacher Institute, the former research arm of Planned Parenthood, says that taxpayer funding bans are a proven abortion reduction method. According to Guttmacher, studies show that when abortion is not publically funded, abortions in the covered population are reduced by roughly 25 percent.”
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) also gave remarks at the press conference, and explained that he designated the legislation as H.R. 3, saying it was an indication that permanently banning taxpayer dollars for abortion is “one of the highest legislative priorities” on the House agenda.
“Our members feel very strongly about the sanctity of human life,” Boehner said. “We listened to the American people. We made a commitment to the American people under the Pledge to America and we’re continuing to fulfill our commitment.”
The “Protect Life Act”, a separate piece of legislation sponsored by Rep. Pitts, would also amend the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” to include a statutory ban on government-funded abortion in the health care reform. The bill would ban government-subsidized abortion and abortion-coverage. It would also prevent any abortion funding that could get through weaknesses in the Executive Order obtained by former US Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) in exchange for his vote on the PPACA.
Rep. Lipinski, who is co-sponsoring both bills, said the battles waged over abortion in the health care fight “made it clear” that using annual riders to prevent government-funded abortion was a “dangerously fragile” system for Congress.
“We must take action to prevent federal funding for abortion under the health care law and throughout the government, without exception,” he said. “I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to guarantee we abide by a principle supported by the overwhelming majority of Americans: that no federal taxpayer dollars should be used to pay for abortion.”
Rep. Pitts also issued a challenge to President Obama, saying that if he had no problem signing an Executive Order, he should have no objection signing the Protect Life Act into law either.
“It is imperative that the federal government stays out of the business of subsidizing the morally objectionable practice of abortion,” said Pitts. “President Obama, himself, agreed with these goals, and even issued an Executive Order trying to prove his support for prohibiting federal funding for abortion. If he chooses to stand by his word, he should have no problem signing both these bills into law.”
National Right to Life Committee greeted the introduction of the bills as major steps to “repair and strengthen” the wall between federal funds and abortion.
“Public opinion is strongly against federal subsidies for abortion, and any member of Congress who is truly opposed to federal funding of abortion will vote for both of these bills,” said NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson. “If President Obama seeks to obstruct these bills, that will provide additional glaring evidence that his professions of opposition to public funding of abortion are phony.”
The news, however, was greeted with serious alarm by Planned Parenthood.
“This is a very serious threat,” President Cecile Richards told POLITICO in response to the pro-life press conference. “These folks have just taken office and this is what they’re focusing on…Based on what we’re seeing, just few days after the start of Congress, we’re absolutely ready for a very serious fight.”