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Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2006--Conference Report

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. BROWNBACK. Mr. President, I rise to speak to speak on a free-standing provision in title IV of the pending DOD appropriations bill, subtitle A, the Hurricane Education Recovery Act, which prohibits discrimination ``on the basis of . . . sex.'' (Section 107(m)(1)(A)). I want to ensure that this provision will be applied in an abortion-neutral manner--such as parallel provisions that have long governed all educational institutions receiving Federal funds--even though it contains no explicit clarifying language.

Over two decades ago, Federal regulators and others misused statutory language against ``discrimination on the basis of sex'' to argue that procedures, such as abortion, which apply only to women must be treated like any routine health procedure. To end this misinterpretation, abortion-neutral language amending title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 was enacted as part of the Civil Rights Restoration Act in 1988, 20 U.S.C §1688. When Congress passed the D.C. School Choice Incentive Act of 2003 in January, it incorporated this clarification by reference, Sec. 308(b)(3) of Pub. L. 108-199.

It is therefore important to be clear that nothing in this bill is designed to change this legal status quo in any way. At a time when schoolchildren in so many States are in desperate need of temporary assistance to continue their educations, no one should be seizing upon this emergency legislation as a vehicle for changing current law on abortion. Nor should the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina and other disasters be used to justify filing sex discrimination suits against private and public schools that do not facilitate abortions for minor children in their charge. I am confident that Congress had no such intent in crafting this bill and that the U.S. Department of Education will not construe the bill's provision on discrimination ``on the basis of sex'' to require any new policy or practice on abortion in schools.

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