On July 30, Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Congressman Dan Lipinski (D-Il.) introduced a new bill that would permanently bar subsidies for abortion in all federal programs.
The measure, titled the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" (H.R. 5939), is strongly backed by NRLC.
"For decades, a patchwork of short-term policies have prevented abortion funding in many programs authorized by Congress, but it is time for a single, government-wide permanent protection against taxpayer funding for elective abortion," Smith said.
Long-established federal programs, such as Medicaid, currently do not pay for elective abortion, thanks to a patchwork of pro-life policies put in place over a period of decades. Many of these policies are imposed by provisions of annual appropriations bills that require annual renewal, the best known of these being the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits funding of abortion with money from the annual Health and Human Services appropriations bill.
If the Smith-Lipinski bill were enacted, it would no longer be necessary to win annual renewal of the Hyde Amendment or other such temporary bans.
In addition, the bill would prevent federal funds from subsidizing abortion, or insurance plans that cover abortion, in any of the new programs created by the new health care law.
The bill would also make permanent an important pro-life law that has been enacted on a year-to-year basis since 2004, known as the Hyde-Weldon Amendment. This provision prohibits state, local, or federal government agencies that receive federal DHHS funds from discriminating against health care providers for refusing to provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.
"Recent events have demonstrated, more graphically than ever before, the importance of achieving a permanent, government-wide prohibition on subsidies for abortion, and NRLC will work hard for enactment of this legislation," said NRLC's Chris Johnson.
House Republican Leader John Boehner (Oh.), who is an original cosponsor of the bill, said, "There is simply no good reason for Congress not to codify the Hyde Amendment, which reflects the clearly-expressed will of the American people. The need for Rep. Smith's bill has become more clear than ever as a result of the disingenuous way in which the White House and the Democratic congressional leadership thwarted enactment of the pro-life Stupak-Pitts amendment during the debate over health care earlier this year. Rather than allowing the pro-life Stupak-Pitts amendment to become law, President Obama issued an Executive Order purporting to eliminate the need for such an amendment. Americans now know, based on recent developments and the administration's subsequent scrambling to patch holes exposed in its claim by pro-life Americans, that the president's executive order is inadequate."
As of August 23, H.R. 5939 had 167 cosponsors. To view an always-current list of cosponsors, visit the NRLC Legislative Action Center at http://www.capwiz.com/nrlc/issues/
NRLC also supports legislation known informally as the "Protect Life Act," introduced in the House by Congressman Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) as H.R. 5111 (123 cosponsors) and in the Senate by Senator Tom Coburn (R-Ok.) as S. 3723 (26 cosponsors).
This legislation would revise the recently enacted health care law to prevent any pro-abortion subsidies or administrative regulations. Its language is similar to the pro-life amendments that NRLC and other pro-life groups tried to attach to the health care legislation when it was under consideration in Congress.
The Pitts-Coburn bill is intended to correct only the abortion-related problems created by the Obama-backed health care law – a narrower focus than the Smith bill, which would apply a uniform pro-life policy to all federal health programs, both newly created and longstanding.