Major pro-life bill passed
By Matt Hadro
Washington D.C. (CNA)
Photo: U.S. President Donald Trump holds up his executive memorandum reinstating the "Mexico City Policy" banning federal funding of abortion-providing groups abroad. (Kevin Lamarque, Reuters / CNS)
The U.S. House of Representatives passed its first major pro-life bill of the new year Jan. 24, one which would solidify in law the current policy of no federal funding of abortions.
The bill would “protect Americans’ conscience rights by ensuring that their hard-earned tax dollars are not used to fund the destruction of innocent life,” Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) said on the House Floor before the vote.
Federal funding for abortion is largely prohibited under the 40-year-old Hyde Amendment, named after its original sponsor Rep. Henry Hyde. However, that amendment has to be passed by Congress every year as a “rider” to appropriations bills.
The amendment enjoyed decades of bipartisan support. The most recent Democratic National Committee platform, however, called for its repeal.
The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, passed Tuesday by a 238-183 vote and sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), would solidify this policy in law, so that it does not need to be annually reapproved by Congress.
It would expand on current protections against taxpayer funding of abortion to other areas, such as federal employee health plans. It would also extend to the Affordable Care Act, ensuring that no federal subsidies fund abortion coverage in plans offered on the exchanges.
A 2014 report by the Government Accountability Office found loopholes where insurers were not following the protocol to make sure abortions were billed and itemized separately from other health coverage paid for by federal subsidies, leaving open the possibility that federal dollars were funding abortions.
“More than 20 peer-reviewed studies show that more than two million people are alive today because of Hyde,” Rep. Smith stated on Tuesday.
He said there is a “megatrend” showing “that the American public not only does not support taxpayer funding for abortion but the public increasingly supports actions to protect unborn children and women from the violence of abortion.”
According to a Marist poll released earlier this week and commissioned by the Knights of Columbus, 61 percent of respondents opposed the use of tax dollars to pay for abortions. That included 53 percent of Millennials and even 41 percent of Democrats.
President Trump has signaled that he would sign the bill if it was passed by Congress. The Senate will have to pass it first.