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Senate Passes Vitter Amendment to Prohibit Federal Funding of Abortions

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Senate Passes Vitter Amendment to Prohibit Federal Funding of Abortions

The U.S. Senate today passed U.S. Sen. David Vitter's amendment to S.1200, the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, prohibiting the use of federal Indian Health Service (IHS) funds for abortions, except to save the life of the mother, or in cases of rape or incest of a minor.

"This is truly an important victory for the pro-life movement and for the unborn," said Vitter. "We now need to work to make sure that this provision remains in the final bill as it continues to House-Senate legislative conference."

Although federal funding of abortions has been restricted since 1976, federal IHS funds were still used to pay for abortions due to the absence of a "Hyde provision" in the Interior Appropriations Bill, in which the IHS receives its funding. The "Hyde provision" refers to Congressman Henry Hyde's amendment that restricted the use of federal funds for abortions in the 1976 annual Health and Human Services Appropriations Bill. The IHS, however, is funded through a separate Interior Appropriations Bill, which does not include a "Hyde provision." Vitter's amendment permanently closes the IHS loophole.

"My amendment codifies a longstanding policy that prohibits the use of federal dollars for abortions," said Vitter. "The Hyde amendment represented a pivotal moment in the pro-life movement by restricting the use of federal funds for abortions, but a series of legislative loopholes has allowed this practice to continue in certain instances. The passage of my amendment will finally close this loophole."

The Reagan administration enacted an administrative measure that required all abortion funding limitations found in the Health and Human Services Bill to apply to the IHS. Although the measure curbed the practice, other presidential administrations have not been ‑ and will not be ‑ barred from using IHS funds for abortions without the Vitter amendment.

"The federal government should not use taxpayer dollars to pay for acts that so many Americans find to be soundly abhorrent," said Vitter. "This amendment provides a real and permanent assurance that federal funds cannot be used for abortions."

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