Analysis

Can pro-abortion lawmakers use a domestic violence bill to fund abortion?

abortion, sex trafficking, planned parenthood

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell slammed recent efforts from pro-abortion lawmakers to sneak abortion funding into legislation, calling it a “slush fund” for Planned Parenthood. A new bill, purportedly meant to help survivors of domestic violence, is raising questions about what the real intentions might be, especially after passing the House without a pro-life amendment banning funding for abortions.

Catholic Vote raised an alert about a bill up for consideration in the House. H.R. 2119, or the Family Violence Prevention and Services Improvement Act of 2021, is meant to improve funding for funding and services aimed at survivors of domestic violence. Yet several sections are concerning, and seem to be a way to covertly insert funding for abortion.

Section 9 gets rid of a current provision barring funds from the Family Violence Prevention and Services Improvement Act to reimburse health care costs. On its own, this is not concerning. Yet many, including Heritage Action, the Susan B. Anthony List, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Concerned Women for America, and the Family Research Council, oppose H.R. 2119 because this section opens the door to taxpayer-funded abortion.

How? By overturning the Hyde Amendment.

 

Democrats recently submitted a bill to fund the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education departments, and for the first time in decades, it did not include the Hyde Amendment to protect against taxpayer-funded abortions. Should Democrats succeed in destroying Hyde, it will allow the government to fund abortions, which is why H.R. 2119’s Section 9 is concerning. By framing abortion as “health care,” as political abortion advocates have done, it allows H.R. 2119 to include abortion.

At least one news outlet incorrectly claimed that Hyde Amendment protections apply in the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act. An email from SBA List, however, explains how this bill actually can be used to fund abortion (emphasis added):

Under current statute, the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) does not fund health care reimbursements. Such expenses are instead handled by other health programs like Medicaid. Specifically, 42 U.S.C. §10408(b)(1) states that the funds “shall be used to provide shelter, supportive services, or prevention services…which may include…medical advocacy, including provision of referrals for appropriate health care services…but which shall not include reimbursement for any health care services.” However, H.R. 2119 amends the statute striking the clause prohibiting the funds from being used for health care reimbursements and authorizes $327.5 million in annual appropriations for FVPSA through 2026, of which $270 million is authorized annually for the FVPSA program.

This change is significant when combined with several simultaneous changes to the manner in which funds are appropriated for FVPSA. Appropriations for this program have typically been made in the Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) bill, with the protection of the Hyde amendment. However, the House-passed consolidated LHHS appropriations bill H.R. 4502 specifically eliminated the Hyde Amendment and appropriated nearly $450 million to the FVPSA. Simultaneously, §25002 of the draft reconciliation bill appropriates $27 million for fiscal year 2022 for FVPSA. Because the Hyde amendment does not apply to the reconciliation bill, this money would now be available to be used to reimburse the costs for abortion services.

Attempts were made in the Education and Labor Committee markup to amend H.R. 2119 to reinstate the status quo prohibition on reimbursement for health care services and to attach Hyde protections to the authorizing language. However, because these amendments were not adopted, the language in H.R. 2119 changes the statute of the FVPSA, for the first time exposing this funding to use for abortion services.

This drive to fund abortion at all costs was slammed by McConnell in his speech on the House floor. “The Democrats’ spree would also tear down the longstanding, bipartisan Hyde Amendment protections so they can directly fund abortion providers like Planned Parenthood with taxpayer dollars,” he said. “Today’s left cannot miss an opportunity to send Planned Parenthood a new slush fund.”

Rep. Julia Letlow put forward an amendment to H.R. 2119, allowing the reimbursements for health care, but specifically banning abortion. Unfortunately, the bill passed the House without the inclusion of Letlow’s pro-life amendment.

“According to CDC estimates, at least one in three Americans has experienced sexual violence, physical violence, or stalking by a partner,” Letlow said in a speech on the floor. “For decades, Congress has worked in a bipartisan fashion to dedicate resources towards preventing and healing the suffering of these victims. But today, the bill we are considering, H.R. 2119, the Family Violence Prevention and Services Improvement Act, includes several highly concerning provisions.”

“First, this bill opens the doors for entities to spend taxpayer dollars,” she continued. “FVPSA was enacted to save innocent lives, not put them in harm’s way.”

Tom McClusky, the director of government affairs for Catholic Vote, said this will only put women at further risk, and says lawmakers’ intention is not truly to help people in need.

“H.R. 2119 is meant to help victims of domestic violence and their dependents,” he said in a statement. “Instead the Democrats are turning it into a new funding stream for abortion-giant Planned Parenthood and dragging the issue into their gender war by making it harder to maintain public facilities specifically for female victims of violence. This bill is supposed to protect women,” McClusky added, “but instead it puts them more at risk at the altar of a radical ideology.”

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