On July 22, prolife champion U.S. Congressman Christopher Smith (R-NJ) sent a letter to his Congressional partners, entreating them to support a bill which he plans to introduce called the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.” Congressman Smith wrote:
For over 30 years, a patchwork of policies has regulated federal funding for abortion…The soon to be introduced “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” will establish a government-wide statutory prohibition on abortion funding.
His letter further clarified that the current condition of abortion limitations consists of a collection of amendments that have been added onto previous bills. These amendments have been successful thus far, but recent events have exposed their weaknesses.
In May, Senator Ronald Burris (D-IL) amended the U.S. Defense Appropriations Bill, seeking to fund abortions on military bases. Then, over the summer, as states explored implementing the now federally-mandated health-insurance, more controversy erupted when attention was drawn to the provisions in Obamacare that many argued could require abortion coverage. Because President Obama signed an executive order signaling his intent to preserve long-standing restrictions on federal funding of abortion, key congressional leaders supported his omnibus health care reform bill. Many abortion advocates are on record as annoyed by this action, but admitted the Executive Order was meaningless. Even Factcheck.org saw the restrictions would not hold:
We can see what caused abortion opponents to be concerned. An official solicitation issued by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department specified that abortions “will” be covered if they are legal under Pennsylvania law. And according to news reports, a similar document in New Mexico listed ‘elective’ abortions under “covered services.” State and federal officials have since scrambled to clarify their intentions. (factcheck.org, July 22, 2010)
President Obama finally promised that no taxpayer funds would go toward abortions, prompting abortion-supporters to criticize this statement. Pro-abortion members of the House issued a letter to Kathleen Sibelius, Health and Human Services Secretary, disagreeing with the President’s pledge, and NARAL issued this statement, “[Patients] will not be able to access abortion care, even if their health is at further risk.” (Prochoiceamerica.org, “Attack in High-Risk Pools”). This vehement reaction to the President’s promise is suspect given the lackluster opposition to the original Executive Order.
Recent events show that restricting abortion funding through amendments does not work. Congressman Smith has taken the call to change that. He explained, “[T]he existing funding limitation amendments attach to annual appropriations bills…have to be reapproved every year” and often lead to “debate over abortion funding any time Congress considers health-related legislation.” This new bill would unify and codify the existing amendments into law which, once passed, would remain in place and not be subject to annual debate and possible rejection. Pro-life advocates must contact their members of the House and Senate, urging support for Congressman Chris Smith’s “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.”