A sweeping bill to permanently prohibit taxpayer funding of abortion in every federal program was introduced today by Congressmen Chris Smith (R-NJ-04) and Dan Lipinski (D-IL).
The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act will establish a government-wide statutory prohibition on abortion funding. The bipartisan bill, HR 5939, has over 150 original cosponsors and will reduce the need for numerous separate policies to prevent government funding for abortion.
"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. "Abortion is lethal violence against children and exploitation of women. This legislation would establish a comprehensive policy prohibiting public funding for elective abortion in all federal programs."
Lipinski said recent the health care legislation showed the existing laws to prevent taxpayer-funded abortion are too weak.
"The health care bill made it clear that the current way we prevent taxpayer funding of abortion through annual riders is dangerously fragile," Lipinski said. "To guarantee that taxpayers are never forced to pay for abortions and the innocent unborn are protected, we must make the longstanding ban on federal funding for abortion permanent and government-wide. Protecting the sanctity of life, and preserving the individual's freedom not to be complicit in any way in abortion, is a matter of principle for me and tens of millions of Americans."
Most of the existing funding policies are limitation amendments attached to annual appropriations bills (sometimes referred to as riders), which have to be reapproved every year. This "ad hoc" approach usually results in several distinct bans on abortion winning approval each year.
This new legislation will make permanent the policies that currently rely on regular re-approval, including amendments like the well known Hyde Amendment, which prohibits funding for elective abortion coverage through any program funded through the annual Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Act. It also would make permanent other existing laws, such as: the Helms amendment, which prohibits funding for abortion as a method of family planning overseas; the Smith FEHBP amendment, which prohibits funding for elective abortion coverage for federal employees; the Dornan amendment, which prohibits use of congressionally appropriated funds for abortion in the District of Columbia, and; other policies such as the restrictions on elective abortion funding through Peace Corps and Federal prisons.
"The comprehensive approach eliminates the need for the numerous funding protections and limitations approved every year and ensures that no program or agency is exempt from this important safeguard," Smith said. "According to every reputable poll, large majorities of Americans want no complicity whatsoever in paying for abortion."
The bill also codifies the Hyde-Weldon conscience clause that is part of the Hyde amendment. The conscience clause ensures that recipients of federal funding do not discriminate against health care providers, including doctors, nurses and hospitals, because the providers do not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.
"The conscience clause is a critical part of the law which protects health care providers who do not want to take part in the abortion business." Smith said. "Without it, people could be forced to participate in something they strongly believe to be morally wrong. Without it, faith-based hospitals could lose funding."