National Right to Life Federal Legislative Update

Update: January 11, 2024
From: Jennifer Popik, J.D. – Director of Federal Legislation, National Right to Life

I wanted to flag several ongoing pro-life items in Congress.

  • Pro-life Votes Expected in the House Next Week
  • Ongoing Government Funding Battle – update
  • Senate Vote on Military Holds
  • Supreme Court Action on Chemical Abortion

The 118th Congressional Scorecards can be found on our Voter Voice system here:

Additionally, you might find this article of interest: “2023 Year in Review: Federal Government and Abortion

Pro-life Votes Expected in the House Next Week

Next week, around the time of the annual March for Life, votes are expected on two pieces of pro-life legislation:

Supporting Pregnant and Parenting Women and Families Act (H.R. 6918)

H.R. 6918 would ensure that pregnancy centers are eligible for state-directed federal funds through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Pregnancy centers serve millions of clients annually and offer hope and support for women during pregnancy.

The Biden Administration is currently proposing a rule to restrict federal funds from going to pregnancy centers in a number of states that direct funds to them through the TANF program. H.R. 6918 would prohibit Health and Human Services from finalizing, implementing, or enforcing this or any similar rulemaking that would restrict use of TANF for pregnancy centers.

Pregnant Students’ Rights Act (H.R. 6914)

H.R. 6914 would amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to require institutions of higher education to provide students with:

  • A list of the resources that exist to help pregnant students and students who are caring for a baby.
  • Information about the accommodation available for pregnant and parenting students and on how to file a complaint with the Department of Education.

Ongoing Government Funding Battle – update

Congress failed to pass year-long appropriations for 2024 as they were supposed to have done on September 30th, 2023. Instead, they are keeping the government funded and open using a continuing resolution or “CR.” The current CR runs out for several agencies on Jan. 19 and others on Feb. 2. This CR maintains the status quo on taxpayer-funded abortion, including the over four-decade old Hyde Amendment and numerous other similar provisions.

House leadership promised to hold votes on 12 individual spending bills to fund the government, rather than produce a large omnibus. While the majority of the 12 bills have been approved, work has stalled on the remaining bills while the clock runs on the temporary CR.

While it is expected that long-standing pro-life provisions will be maintained this Congress, few if any of the new provisions have sufficient support in the Democrat-controlled Senate but remain worth fighting for.

Senate Vote on Military Holds

Federal law (10 U.S.C. § 1093) has long prevented the Department of Defense (DOD) from using funds to perform elective abortions and prevented the DOD from using its facilities to provide abortions.

On October 20, 2022, the Biden Administration’s DOD published a memorandum directing the
DOD to pay the travel and transportation costs for military members and dependents to travel to obtain elective abortions. The federal prohibition against DOD funding elective abortion clearly extends to funding for any item related to abortion, such as travel and transportation.

Sen. Tuberville (R-AL) had been blocking military promotions on account of this policy for over a year. He withdrew the hold, and a vote to overturn the policy was held. During consideration of the NDAA, the Senate considered a procedural motion from Sen. Ernst (R-IA) to prohibit the Secretary of Defense from paying for or reimbursing expenses relating to elective abortion.

Supreme Court Action on Chemical Abortion

On August 16, 2023, a Fifth Circuit panel issued a ruling in the ongoing Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA chemical abortion case. The panel affirmed in part and vacated in part the district-court order from April that ruled against the FDA’s initial approval of the abortion drug mifepristone.

The ruling is a significant win in that it would invalidate the FDA’s 2016 and 2021 changes to the distribution of mifepristone, and would restore requirements regarding dating a pregnancy, preventing remote prescribing, and prevent mailing the drugs (among several others).

On December 13, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will hear arguments this term regarding the Food and Drug Administration’s decisions in 2016 and 2021 to loosen regulations of the abortion drug mifepristone and whether the challengers have standing to bring their case.

The consolidated cases the Court will hear are FDA, et al. v. Alliance Hippocratic Medicine, et al. and Danco Laboratories, L.L.C. v. Alliance Hippocratic Medicine, et al.

See more updates here: NRLC press release

In April 2023, National Right to Life released a white paper Addressing Many of the Myths the Media is Repeating about the FDA’s Approval and Management of Mifeprex (Mifepristone) which can be accessed here.

    In September 2023, National Right to Life released a second white paper regarding What the Media Missed in Its Coverage of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Decision Regarding Mifepristone which addressed many of the issues that will be coming before the Court. That special report can be accessed here.