By Jennifer Popik, J.D., Director of Federal Legislation National Right to Life
With the first month of the new 118th Congress now complete, there is a great deal of pro-life activity to celebrate. That said, the pro-abortion Biden Administration show no signs of slowing down the push to expand abortion. In Tuesday night’s State of the Union address to Congress, Biden stated that he and Vice President Harris are doing ‘everything we can’ to protect abortion without limits.”
In this first month of the new Congress, dozens of Members have introduced a flurry of pro-life bills in both the House and the Senate. There is a link to find these at the end of the article. While the Whitehouse is controlled by President Biden for the next two years, it will be difficult to have any pro-life measure signed into law, but Republicans are not slowing down.
After over 80 different attempts to bring the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (BAASPA) under then-Speaker Pelosi (D-Ca.) in the last Congress, the new Republican House majority passed the measure in the first 8 days. The legislation passed by a vote of 220-210. All Republicans voted in favor and all but one Democrat opposed the measure. One Democrat voted present.
In the wake of the Dobbs v. Jackson decision, several states are moving to not only fully legalize abortion up to the moment of birth, but are also going to great lengths to insulate abortion providers from even the most basic scrutiny. Against this backdrop, there is renewed urgency to pass the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (BAASPA).
In recent years, evidences have multiplied that current federal law does not sufficiently protect a child born following an abortion and that they are not being provided with the types of care that would be provided to premature infants who are born spontaneously.
The BAASPA requires that when a baby is born alive following an abortion, health care practitioners must exercise the same degree of professional skill and care that would be offered to any other child born alive at the same gestational age, including transportation of the baby immediately to a hospital.
The resolution was sponsored by Representative Ann Wagner (R-MO) with House Majority Leader Steve Scaliest (R-LA), and Representative Kat Commack (R-FL)
The Senate companion bill was introduced last week by Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and John Thune (R-SD). Despite being in the minority in the Senate, Republicans may have an opportunity to vote on this important measure. In the previous Democrat-controlled Congress, a vote on an amendment related to the BAASPA received a bipartisan vote of 52 in favor, and 48 opposed, but the measure needed 60 votes.
No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion
Another major priority piece of legislation continues to be the No-Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 7/S. 62), sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith R-N.J in the House and Sen. Roger Wicker in the Senate. National Right to Life is currently working on adding co-sponsors on the House legislation.
The bill would establish a permanent, government-wide prohibition on federal subsidies for abortion and for health plans that cover abortion (with narrow exceptions). Currently, the long-standing Hyde Amendment (and other similar amendments) must be reapproved every year. Further, Obamacare is not covered by the Hyde Amendment, and H.R. 7 would bring it in line with other government programs.
It’s estimated that before the Hyde Amendment took effect, the Medicaid program paid for about 300,000 elective abortions annually, and that the number was escalating rapidly. The Hyde Amendment is estimated to have saved over 2.5 million lives.
President Biden supports eliminating the Hyde Amendment.
Sen. Wicker has also introduced S. 62, an identical bill, with 46 Senators as original co-sponsors (all Senate Republicans, except Sens. Collins and Murkowski).
FDA Chemical Abortions Drugs – recent developments
While Congress continues to advance pro-life measures, the Biden Administration is continually working to expand abortion. Recently, in early January, the Biden Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated labeling for mifepristone (generic for Mifeprex) that would allow pharmacies to dispense the drug if a woman has a prescription. In issuing the new regulations, the FDA formalized a decision made in 2021 to permanently drop the in-person requirement for the distribution of the abortion pill.
In response to these recent Biden Administration actions, 22 attorneys general with protective state laws issued a letter in response. They wrote “Though the FDA has abdicated its responsibility to protect women’s health, we have not…To be crystal clear, you have not negated any of our laws that forbid the remote prescription, administration, and use of abortion-inducing drugs. The health and safety of our citizens—women and children included—is of paramount concern. Nothing in the FDA’s recent changes affects how we will protect our people.”
In addition, at least three states (Missouri, Florida, and South Dakota) have issued separate letters issued to pharmacies, reminding them of their state laws.
However, in states where abortion is legal and where chemical abortion is not regulated, CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid have announced plans to become eligible to dispense the chemical abortion drugs.
A petition with more information is available here: https://www.votervoice.net/NRLC/Petitions/3665/Respond
Also, National Right to Life scorecards, contact information for members of Congress, and key legislation can be found at:
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