Traditionally during the week of the March for Life, members of Congress highlight the life issue and the need to end abortion in America. Even though the House does not currently have a pro-life majority and there was no pro-life vote scheduled, several members of the House have introduced pieces of pro-life legislation this week. Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MIssouri) introduced H.R. 369 which would provide a moratorium on Federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Instead of blindly handing over Federal taxpayer dollars to the nation’s largest abortion provider, this legislation would put a one-year moratorium on all Federal dollars going toward Planned Parenthood and would increase the funding given to Federally Qualified Health Centers.
Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) introduced a bill to prohibit family planning grants (Title X money) from being awarded to any entity that performs abortions. This bill would essentially codify the Protect Life Rule that was proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services in June. Title X essentially serves as a slush fund for the abortion industry because, while Title X funds cannot directly go toward abortions, they can provide support to clinics that perform abortions. This bill would prevent any abortion provider from receiving these funds.
On Thursday, the Senate voted on S.109, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act. This bill, introduced by Sens. James Lankford (R-Oklahoma), Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi), and Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), would prohibit any taxpayer dollars from going toward abortion. Rep. Chris Smith (R-New Jersey) introduced the companion bill in the House. Currently, the Hyde Amendment prohibits federal funding of abortion, but it must be re-adopted every year through annual spending bills, and it only applies to certain programs. There are programs that Hyde does not touch that possibly allow for federally-funded abortions. However, this bill would apply government-wide and would include programs, like the Affordable Care Act, that were crafted to circumvent Hyde.
Although the Senate failed to pass S. 109, we are still optimistic about life in Washington. On Tuesday, 169 members of the House, led by Rep. Chris Smith and 49 Senators, led by Sen. Steve Daines (R-Montana), each submitted letters to the President requesting that he issue a veto threat for any legislative efforts that would compromise current protections for life in federal law. Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee sent a similar veto-request letter to the President and encouraged him to continue to fight for life in every way possible.
On Friday during the March for Life, President Trump announced he had sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi pledging his commitment to veto any legislation that weakens current pro-life federal policies. This is an enormous victory for the cause of life because even though there is a pro-abortion House and a marginally pro-life Senate, the President has publicly committed to exercise his right to veto bills that would undo crucial life wins we have gained in the last 40 years. Wins like the ban on partial birth abortion, the Mexico City Policy, and the Hyde Amendment are now protected because of the President’s commitment. Thank you, President Trump!