House Appropriations bill scraps pro-life provisions, including conscience protections

Congress, Planned Parenthood

UPDATE 7/15/21: The House Appropriations Committee advanced a funding bill for fiscal year 2022 on Thursday without the inclusion of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of funding to pay for most elective abortions through federal Medicaid.

According to the Catholic News Agency, an amendment to include the Hyde Amendment, which was first introduced in 1976, failed at Thursday’s hearing in a vote of 27-32. The legislation then passed in a 33-25 vote.

Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, chairman of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) and Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, chairman of the USCCB’s pro-life committee, released a joint statement stating that the bill is “the most extreme pro-abortion appropriations bill that we have seen, effectively mandating healthcare professionals to participate in abortion, and forcing American citizens to pay for abortion with their tax dollars.”

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), who introduced the amendment, said that excluding the Hyde Amendment “threatens to destabilize the entire appropriations process, because this bill will never become law if this language is not included.”

He stated that pro-abortion House members do not have the votes to pass the bill without pro-life member support and argued that the bill would likely not make it through the Senate without the Hyde Amendment included.

7/13/21: On Monday, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies passed by voice vote the FY2022 LHHS Appropriations bill, which removed the Hyde Amendment and other pro-life provisions.

For years, the Hyde Amendment has engendered bipartisan support and has been added to the House appropriations bill every year since it was first passed on September 30, 1976. It bars the use of taxpayer dollars from funding most abortions and is credited with saving at least 2.4 million lives from abortion.

The bill also does not include the Weldon Amendment, which has been in included in the appropriations bill since 2005. It protects health care organizations that do not want to cover or provide abortions services from being penalized. 

Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas) noted that the bill is “out of step with the views of most Americans” and that she and her colleagues are planning to oppose it. 

“For the first time in nearly 50 years, this bill abandons longstanding bipartisan language that prevents federal taxpayers from being used to pay for abortions,” said Rep. Granger. “This bill also removes language carried from the last 16 years that protects American doctors and nurses from being forced to participate in abortions.”

“This shift in policy could destroy decades of bipartisan work,” she continued. 

READ: SAVE HYDE: Taxpayer-funded abortion won’t help poor women. It will only help the abortion industry.

In addition, the bill includes a $400 million increase in Title X spending — which no longer contains provisions preventing abortion businesses from combining their abortion and contraception services — and the complete elimination of funding for Sexual Risk Avoidance education, which received $35 million in FY 2021. In the meantime, Teen Pregnancy Prevention Funding increased by $131 million despite past reports that the grant programs for reducing pregnancy have shown increases in reported pregnancy and the likelihood of becoming pregnant.

Before her retirement last year, former House Appropriations Committee chair Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), said it was her “fervent wish” that Congress remove “once and for all” the Hyde Amendment. The current chair, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), promised to make that happen, ignoring the fact that overturning the Hyde Amendment will not help women and will only make it easier to pressure low-income women into abortions.

Despite the push to repeal the Hyde Amendment, the majority of Americans overwhelmingly oppose taxpayer-funded abortion and pro-life Americans are poised for a fight. Just weeks ago, nearly two dozen Republican state attorneys general issued a letter urging Congress to reinstate the Hyde Amendment in the 2022 budget proposal issued by President Biden.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), was quick to note that the bill will not pass the U.S. Senate without inclusion of the Hyde Amendment. 

“In the days and weeks ahead, it is my hope that members on both sides of the aisle and on both chambers can negotiate spending that is reasonable and will not lead to financial disaster,” Rep. Cole stated. “But the first step towards that negotiation will be a full reinstatement of the Hyde Amendment, including conscience protection language from 16 years ago that was also removed from the bill, which protects American doctors, nurses, and other health care personnel from participating in abortion if they have a moral objection. This is an essential right of every American and its removal is a danger to us all.”

He continued, “Even if all of these issues were addressed today, the removal of the language that protects the lives of unborn American children and the rights of Americans to freely exercise their conscience ensures the bill will never see the president’s desk as written. This decades old bipartisan compromise must be included before we negotiate on the spending levels and other policy provisions.”

Full Committee consideration of the LHHS Appropriations bill is scheduled to take place on Thursday, July 15. 

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