The House Judiciary Committee finished its mark-up of H.R. 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act on Thursday and voted 23–14, on mostly partisan lines, in favor of the bill. Puerto Rico Delegate Pedro Pierluisi was the only Democrat to vote for the bill. H.R. 3 seeks to prohibit federal funding of abortion by permanently codifying an array of protections against government subsidies for abortions.
Keeping federal taxpayer money out of the hands of abortion providers is no small task. From appropriations for the Department of Health and Human Services to international aid funding to how locally generated tax monies are spent in the District of Columbia—and in many other instances—Congress fights a continuous battle to block federal funding of abortion. In order to safeguard taxpayers’ financial and conscience concerns, Congress has annually passed numerous appropriations riders like the Hyde, Helms, and Dornan amendments that prohibit the direct or indirect use of federal funds for abortion. Nonetheless, almost every new piece of legislation regarding health care, conscience rights, health insurance tax credits, and even national defense presents the opportunity for federal funds to slip into the pockets of facilities performing elective abortions.
Ending the continuous race to amend, reword, and preempt new and old proposals to use taxpayer funds to subsidize abortion, H.R. 3 would permanently prohibit the use of taxpayer dollars to subsidize elective abortions. In addition to addressing the various loopholes for federal abortion funding, the bill prevents funding for:
- Elective abortion through appropriations for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services;
- International aid for contraceptive programs where abortion is used as a method of family planning;
- Insurance coverage for federal employees that includes elective abortions; and
- Subsidized abortion with monies congressionally appropriated for the District of Columbia, as well as locally generated tax dollars.
Americans most recently witnessed the result of not having permanent, broad-based prohibitions against federal taxpayer funding of abortion last year in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The PPACA includes federal subsidies for health plans offering abortion, a loophole for grant funding for community centers that could provide abortions, and a similar loophole for high-risk insurance pools in the states. After Hyde amendment language that would negate some of these concerns was omitted from the final bill, President Obama issued a tenuous executive order that no funds appropriated through PPACA would subsidize elective abortions. Without permanent congressional action on the issue of federal abortion funding, however, that order is in danger of executive or judicial reversal.
H.R. 3 not only permanently rectifies the federal abortion funding loopholes in the PPACA and spending bills; it also addresses the conscience rights of pro-life medical professionals and institutions. Both the weak conscience protections in the PPACA and the Obama Administration’s recent decision to partially rescind federal conscience regulations have placed the rights of doctors, pharmacists, and hospitals in a precarious situation. Codifying the annual Hyde–Weldon clause, H.R. 3 provides protection from discrimination in federally funded programs to medical professionals and institutions that decline participation in abortion.
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