By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

  WASHINGTON, DC, February 27, 2008 ( – The US Senate has approved, by a 52-42 vote, an amendment to the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, sponsored by Senator David Vitter (R-Louisiana), which will prevent Indian Health Service (IHS) funds from being used to pay for abortions, except to save the life of the mother, rape or incest of a minor.

  US federal funding of abortions has been restricted since 1976 under the Hyde Amendment, but the Interior Appropriations Bill, from which the IHS receives its funding, does not have a “Hyde provision.”

“The federal government should not use taxpayer dollars to pay for acts that so many Americans find to be soundly abhorrent,” said Senator Vitter. “This amendment provides a real and permanent assurance that federal funds cannot be used for abortions.”

“My amendment codifies a longstanding policy that prohibits the use of federal dollars for abortions,” Senator Vitter explained. “The Hyde amendment represented a pivotal moment in the pro-life movement by restricting the use of federal funds for abortions, but a series of legislative loopholes has allowed this practice to continue in certain instances. The passage of my amendment will finally close this loophole.”

“I think this is very significant because it shows we’re on real solid political ground completely opposing any federal funding of abortion – and we’re having that reflected in law even more clearly than before. So that’s obviously progress at the margin, but I think it’s important.”

“This is truly an important victory for the pro-life movement and for the unborn,” Senator Vitter continued. “We now need to work to make sure that this provision remains in the final bill as it continues to the House-Senate legislative conference.”

  Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas), who co-sponsored the Vitter amendment, called passage of the measure “an important victory for the cause of life.”

  Tony Perkins, President of Family Research Council, issued this press release praising the Senate’s decision:

“I applaud the Senate for voting to prevent Indian Health Service funds from being used to pay for abortions. The majority of the Senate has now shown they agree with most Americans that government funding of abortion is morally wrong.

“Current Indian Health law prevents funding of abortion by referencing the Hyde provision which is contained in the annual Health and Human Services spending bill. However, Senator Vitter’s amendment is essential to prevent future funding of abortion, because the Hyde provision, as a part of the annual appropriation process, could be removed. Senator Vitter’s common sense amendment simply codifies the long-standing policy in the Indian Health Care Improvement Act against funding abortion.

“Americans should be encouraged that the Senate, by a margin of 52-42, passed this amendment. It is crucial that the House include this provision when considering the Indian Health Service bill.”