By Jennifer Popik, J.D. Director of Federal Legislation
Editor’s note. This appears in the February edition of National Right to Life News. Please share this—and the entire 45 pages of the issue—with your pro-life family and friends.
As thousands of Americans gathered in Washington D.C. for the 2024 March for Life, the House passed two pieces of pro-life legislation. With the theme of the March this year being “With Every Woman, For Every Child,” the two votes could not have been more appropriate.
On Thursday, January 18, 2024, the U.S. House of Representatives passed two bills designed to help women and their families as well as pregnant and parenting students. In a post-Roe America, it is more important now than ever that pregnancy centers are able to effectively support mothers and their babies.
H.R. 6918, the Supporting Pregnant and Parenting Women and Families Act (sponsored by Rep. Michelle Fischbach R-Mn), passed by a vote of 214-208. Not a single Democrat supported the bill. The bill ensures that pregnancy centers are eligible for state-directed federal funds through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.
This legislation is in response to a current proposed rule by the Biden Administration to restrict federal funds from going to pregnancy centers in several states that direct funds to them through the TANF program. H.R. 6918 would prohibit HHS from finalizing, implementing, or enforcing this or any similar rulemaking that would restrict the use of TANF for pregnancy centers.
The Proposed Rule, among other things, targets pregnancy resource centers by threatening to strip them of millions of dollars of funding claiming, without evidence, that pregnancy centers do not meet TANF criteria. This is funding that is currently being used to support and compassionately help millions of women and their unborn babies annually.
On the same day, H.R. 6914, the Pregnant Students’ Rights Act (Rep. Ashley Hinson R-IA), passed by a vote of 212-207. Again, not a single Democrat supported the bill. This legislation seeks to inform pregnant students that they have rights to accommodations and that there are prohibitions against discrimination due to pregnancy under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
According to the bill’s findings, “Female students enrolled at institutions of higher education and experiencing an unplanned pregnancy may face pressure that their only option is to receive an abortion or risk academic failure.”
H.R. 6914 would ensure that pregnant students, as well as students who are caring for a baby after birth, receive information on resources that exist to help them. Students would also be given information on how to file a complaint with the Department of Education based on Title IX and file a discrimination complaint with the institution of higher education.
H.R. 6914 and H.R. 6918 reflect the commitment of the pro-life movement not only to protecting unborn babies but also to helping their mothers get the support and practical assistance they need.
According to National Right to Life President Carol Tobias,
In longstanding narrow-mindedness, all of the Democrats in the House failed to support these reasonable measures because the bills do not promote abortion. Once again, leaders in the Democratic Party have shown their allegiance to the abortion industry and its extremism.
While these bills are unlikely to receive any action in the Senate, the House should continue to fight for mothers and their unborn children.
The new Speaker Mike Johnson addressed the March for Life crowd stating,
We know those are the centers that states rely on to assist expecting moms and dads. And that action would undercut that important work, the important material support that expecting and first time mothers get from these centers. Our bill would prevent that regulation from coming into effect and ensure that the states can utilize these centers to help people in need. Who could be opposed to that? We’re, we’re passing these bills and we’re marching today because it takes a lot of work to convince people that every single human child, every unborn child, has a value that is too profound and precious to ignore. And we have every reason to be optimistic, my friends, that we can change public opinion.