Pro-life Senators and Representatives fight to prevent Congressional funding of abortion

By Jennifer Popik, J.D., Director of Federal Legislation

Editor’s note. This story  appeared on page one of the December edition of National Right to Life News.

Please share widely—with your pro-life family and friends and anyone else who loves children.

Congress returns this week with a busy slate of items they wish to accomplish prior to the Christmas holiday. Pro-lifers are poised for a fight to stop additional federal funding of abortion.

This past Friday, President Joe Biden signed a short-term continuing resolution to keep the government funded until February. 18, 2022. This temporary measure maintains current spending levels and abortion funding restrictions.  Passage of the continuing resolution means that last year’s appropriations, which contain the Hyde Amendment as well as other abortion-funding restrictions, remain in place for the time being. This funding bill to keep the government open will mean that Congress has time to continue to work on keeping the government open. 

In July 2021, House Democrats passed several appropriations bills that did not include the Hyde Amendment or other longstanding, bipartisan pro-life protections and, instead, added pro-abortion provisions. Senate-side, nine appropriations bills were released in late October, but not voted on by the Appropriations Committee. The bills include taxpayer funding of abortion. 

Republican leadership has maintained their commitment to opposing efforts to strip out pro-life protections.  A majority of the House and 60 Senators would need to agree on any future spending. 

Congress is also continuing work on the massive so-called “Build Back Better” social spending plan using the reconciliation process. The threshold under this process is 51 votes and is therefore not subject to a filibuster.  

(Note: The “Invest in America” legislation that was signed into law on November 8th was related to infrastructure and did not contain pro-life issues. The bi-partisan bill was supported by all Democrats, as well as 13 Republican members of the House and 19 Republicans in the Senate. )

On November 19, the House passed their version of the legislation with no Republican support. No Republican Senator has announced support, so all 50 Democrats would need to agree. 

The legislation is expected to undergo changes in the Senate, not only due to differing concerns of Senators, but also because of the process by which the bill is assessed by the parliamentarian to ensure the provisions are related to the budget. The “Byrd” rule prohibits provisions that are viewed as “extraneous” to the budget. This is intended to prevent non-budgetary provisions that proponents might otherwise desire to push from using the easier path of needing only a simple majority. 

Notably, the House Democrats’ multi-trillion-dollar reconciliation bill creates radical expansions of taxpayer funding for abortion and the abortion industry. This includes several schemes to use reconciliation to bypass the Hyde Amendment to provide abortion on demand to the Medicaid-coverage gap population in the 12 states that have not expanded Medicaid. 

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-Wv) has voiced opposition to abortion funding, while many members of the House remain committed to funding abortion in the package. President Biden, when asked about abortion funding on October 4th, told reporters “I’d sign it either way.” 

Some, but not all of the pro-life problems in the House-passed bill include:

*Mandating abortion funding in Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) plans in states that did not expand Medicaid, starting in 2024. 

* Funding abortions via reinsurance payments and cost-sharing funding to states.  

* Extending the Obamacare expansion from the Covid-19 American Rescue Plan Act. This would further subsidize Obamacare exchange plans that cover abortion, and subsidize millions of individuals’ taxpayer-funded plans that cover abortion on demand. 

* Directing billions of dollars to various public health grants without Hyde Amendment protections.