Pro-Abortion Democrats Unlikely to give up attempts to attach pro-abortion provisions to funding bills

By Dave Andrusko

Pro-abortion Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nv.)

Stop the presses: we have a pro-abortion President and a pro-abortion Senate. Okay, don’t stop the presses, you know that already.

But what you might not know is that working with the strong encouragement of National Right to Life, a group of pro-life senators thwarted the best laid plans of pro-abortion Senate Leader Harry Reid earlier this week.

However, because Reid’s attempt to move a so-called “mini-bus”–a measure combining three different appropriations bills–to the Senate floor was blocked by a procedural wall erected by these senators, you heard very little about this important win beyond what you read here at National Right to Life News Today. (“Pro-Life Senators, NRLC Derail ‘Abortion Express Train’ in Senate,” www.nationalrighttolifenews.org/news/2011/11/pro-life-senators-block-progress-of-pro-abortion-express.)

But widespread publicity or not, this is significant. There were no fewer than seven different provisions objected to by National Right to Life in the combo.   In casting his pro-abortion net widely, Reid (D-Nv.) included an attempt to unsettle long-settled legislative practices. To name just a few….

The bill removed an existing ban on government funding of abortion in the District of Columbia, removed a longstanding ban on coverage of abortion in federal employees’ health plans, and earmarked $40 million for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the U.N. population control agency which is deeply involved in China’s coercive population-control program, which relies heavily on compulsory abortion.

As Rep. Chris Smith remarked during a voting session of the House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee on a bill to cut off funds to UNFPA, “For over 30 years, the UNFPA has consistently heaped praise on China’s population control program and repeatedly urged other countries to embrace similar policies.”

Not content with funding the likes of UNFPA, the bill would have tied the hands of future presidents. Authored by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) there was a provision in the bill that to prevent any future president from curbing funding of pro-abortion organizations overseas.

As you know, President Ronald Reagan, President George H.W. Bush, and President George W. Bush denied overseas family-planning funds to private organizations that perform or promote abortion (the so-called “Mexico City Policy”).

So, how did pro-life Senators David Vitter (R-La.), Jim DeMint (R-SC), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), and others thwart Reid?

Senate rules do not allow appropriations bills to be combined in the way that Reid attempted, except by what is known as “unanimous consent,” meaning that each senator had the right to object and prevent the combination bill from advancing.  Other multi-bills have garnered “unanimous consent” in the past, but none containing pro-abortion provisions. 

On Tuesday Senator Vitter took to the Senate floor to deny Reid the required “unanimous consent.” Vitter was joined by other pro-life senators, including DeMint, Paul, and Lee. “National Right to Life commends Senators DeMint, Vitter, Paul, Lee, and their allies for courageously derailing the Abortion Express Train,” said NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson.

However, there are likely to be further attempts by the Senate Democratic leadership to attach pro-abortion provisions to various funding bills for the rest of the year, Johnson warned.

“We’ll be keeping a hawk-like gaze on all of these appropriations bills,” he promised.

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