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Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act, 2008 --Resumed--

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


DEPARTMENTS OF LABOR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, AND EDUCATION APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2008--Resumed -- (Senate - October 18, 2007)

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Mr. VITTER. Madam President, this is a very simple and straightforward but, I believe, important amendment. It says in clear terms that none of the funds in this appropriations bill will go to entities that provide abortions.

I think that is the right policy we should set in this body because whatever side of the abortion debate you are on, we can all agree on one thing: Abortion is a very divisive topic. Abortion divides our Nation--many folks would say down the middle--and it causes understandable passions and feelings on both sides. To a substantial number of Americans--myself included--but millions upon millions of Americans, the procedure of abortion is deeply troubling and deeply offensive. In that context, I think it is the right policy and a very reasonable mainstream policy to say we are not going to send taxpayer dollars to support groups that perform abortions. It seems to me that is the right policy when you talk about taxpayer dollars.

Now, the other side will immediately jump up and say: Well, we have current Federal law that says we are not going to use taxpayer dollars to fund abortions. But, quite frankly, that is not good enough in my mind and in the minds of millions upon millions of other abortion opponents.

Because the way it works now, we send Federal dollars to abortion providers and money is fungible and it is a big shell game and it supports their overhead and it supports their organizations and, in many cases, that funding is a huge percentage of their overall revenue. So it does, in a very significant, meaningful way, support abortions. That is wrong in my mind.

Now, let me make clear what this amendment does and what it does not do.

It says we are not going to send taxpayer dollars to abortion providers under the title X program. The title X program is a family planning program, and many of those entities which get millions of dollars from the Federal Government perform abortions. This amendment says we are not going to send taxpayer dollars to those entities.

Now, what does the amendment not do? It does not affect hospitals. There is specific language, a specific exemption for hospitals. So hospitals are another category. It does not cut one penny from family planning. This amendment is not about family planning. It is clearly about abortion. We do not cut one penny of family planning funding.

This amendment does not deny one family, one individual, family planning services, because in every locality where a private abortion provider is receiving title X funds, there are alternative sources for family planning services--in every area, in every locality. So we are not taking family planning services away from any American, from any individual in any part of the country.

Finally, this amendment does not affect free speech. The amendment contains no language regarding counseling, advocacy, information or expression. It simply says: Let's be fair. Abortion is a very divisive topic. At least half the American people have deep concerns about it. In that context, we should not be sending those folks' money to abortion providers to take care of their overhead, to allow them to use it as a shell game and, essentially, indirectly fund abortions and support abortion services.

Now, there are a lot of examples of these sorts of entities that we could use. But, obviously, the biggest nationwide is Planned Parenthood. Planned
Parenthood performs and accounts for hundreds of thousands of abortions every year. According to the last figures we could locate from 2005-2006, Planned Parenthood has about a $1 billion budget and source of revenue. About a third of that--$305.3 million--comes from Government subsidies of one sort or another. So $1 billion in revenue, and a third of that comes from the taxpayers--whether it is $120 million or more from the Federal Government kicking in directly and at least $59 million coming from this very title X program, which is the subject of my amendment.

Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood, in the last year we could get figures for, performed over 264,000 abortions. The best estimate for abortions nationwide in a year is 1.29 million. So Planned Parenthood alone accounts for over 20 percent of that.

You cannot tell me, given all those numbers, given 265,000 abortions performed, that we are not sending Federal taxpayer dollars that is supporting all of that activity, that is indirectly paying for those abortions--clearly, enormously important to keep Planned Parenthood going, to provide for its overhead--a third of all of its revenue.

Pure and simple, that is wrong when so many Americans find performing abortions so deeply troubling in a fundamental, gut, moral way. So this would set the policy right and simply say, if you are a title X recipient, if you are a recipient of those sorts of Federal dollars, you need to decide. You cannot perform abortions if you want that taxpayer support when half or more of U.S. taxpayers have fundamental, moral reservations, and problems with the procedure.

This amendment is strongly supported by the Family Research Council, and they are going to score the amendment. In addition, it is strongly supported by Concerned Women for America--they also will score the amendment--and, finally, by National Right to Life, which will also score the amendment.

I have letters from two of those three organizations. The third is on the way. I ask unanimous consent that these letters be printed in the Record.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:

FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL,

Washington, DC, October 18, 2007.
U.S. SENATE,
Washington, DC.

DEAR SENATORS: On behalf of Family Research Council and the families we represent, I want to urge you to vote for the Amendment #3330 offered by Senator David Vitter (R-LA) to the Substitute Amendment to the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008 (H.R. 3043) which would prevent Title X family planning funds from supporting abortion providers. We strongly support this amendment.

Title X family planning funds are distributed to organizations that perform a broad array of family planning services. Though Title X funds may not be used to perform abortions, some Title X recipients co-locate their family planning services with their abortion facilities. Indeed, Planned Parenthood clinics receive Title X funding.

Title X family planning funding should not go to abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood, which performed nearly 265,000 abortions in 2005. Recent reports indicate that Planned Parenthood generated over $900 million in income in fiscal year 2005-2006, of which over $300 million came from government grants and contracts. In addition, it has recently been reported that Planned Parenthood clinics that receive Title X funding have not complied with state statutory rape reporting laws. We should not be sending taxpayer money to an organization such as Planned Parenthood that performs abortions or violates state laws designed to protect young women. The Vitter amendment would not alter the $300 million contained in the LHHS bill for Title X family planning services.

Your support for the Vitter amendment will uphold the principle that the United States taxpayer should not have to subsidize the abortion industry. FRC reserves the right to score votes surrounding this amendment in our scorecard for the First Session of the 110th Congress to be published this fall.

Sincerely.

THOMAS MCCLUSKY,
Vice President for Government Affairs.

--

October 18, 2007.
Hon. DAVID VITTER,
U.S. Senate,
Washington, DC.

DEAR SENATOR VITTER, On behalf of the 500,000 members of Concerned Women for America (CWA), I would like to thank you for your continued commitment to support of the sanctity of life. We appreciate your offering an amendment to prohibit federal Title X funding from going to any group which performs elective abortions or whose subgrantees perform elective abortions.

CWA will score the vote on your pro-life amendment to the Department of Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Bill (S. 1710).

Federal taxpayers must not be forced to pay for cruel and immoral abortion procedures to which they rightly object. There is no way around this fundamental principle of fairness and common decency.

Senator, thank you again for your amendment and working to promote life in the Senate. Our members appreciate your strong stance and CWA lends its support to this pro-life amendment. Our little ones cannot speak for themselves, so we must speak for them and make a statement that our nation should not subsidize this destruction of life.

Sincerely,
BEVERLY LAHAYE,

Founder and Chairman,
Concerned Women for America.

Mr. VITTER. I reserve the remainder of my time.

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Mr. VITTER. Mr. President, I would like to use 1 1/2 minutes of my remaining time to simply respond to some of the statements.

A statement was made that this amendment cuts health care services, family planning services that are not abortion and makes them less available. That is simply not true. This amendment doesn't cut a single penny of title X family planning money. That dollar amount is exactly the same. This amendment doesn't make those services unavailable to a single American because we checked every metropolitan area, every locality, and there are other opportunities--public, private, both--for Americans in every locality for true family planning entities that don't also perform abortions. So it is not true that we are lessening that opportunity.

It is not about those true health or family planning services. It is about abortion and whether the American taxpayer is going to be forced to indirectly subsidize abortion in this country as we do right now. When abortion is so divisive an issue, when it is so troubling and fundamentally offensive to so many millions of Americans--at least half the country, in my guesstimate--I don't think it is right or fair to be spending taxpayer dollars. Who can deny that is effectively what we are doing? Just look at the biggest example.

Mr. VITTER. Mr. President, I would like to use 1 1/2 minutes of my remaining time to simply respond to some of the statements.

A statement was made that this amendment cuts health care services, family planning services that are not abortion and makes them less available. That is simply not true. This amendment doesn't cut a single penny of title X family planning money. That dollar amount is exactly the same. This amendment doesn't make those services unavailable to a single American because we checked every metropolitan area, every locality, and there are other opportunities--public, private, both--for Americans in every locality for true family planning entities that don't also perform abortions. So it is not true that we are lessening that opportunity.

It is not about those true health or family planning services. It is about abortion and whether the American taxpayer is going to be forced to indirectly subsidize abortion in this country as we do right now. When abortion is so divisive an issue, when it is so troubling and fundamentally offensive to so many millions of Americans--at least half the country, in my guesstimate--I don't think it is right or fair to be spending taxpayer dollars. Who can deny that is effectively what we are doing? Just look at the biggest example.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator has consumed a minute and a half.

Mr. VITTER. I will consume the remainder of my time.

I talk about Planned Parenthood simply because it is the biggest and most obvious example of billions of dollars of revenue--fully a third comes from Government. Meanwhile, they perform 265,000 abortions--20 percent of the entirety of abortions performed in the United States. That is not right.

I yield back the remainder of my time.

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