WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, has introduced a bill to prohibit use of federal taxpayer dollars to fund abortions.
H.R. 18 — the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2021 — would make the long-standing Hyde Amendment permanent and keep in place similar provisions to ensure no federal dollars are used to pay for abortion and health plans that include abortion.
“When federal taxpayer dollars are not available to help effectuate the demise of unborn babies, lives are saved,” said Smith, a Catholic, who is co-chair of the Congressional Pro-life Caucus. “Abortion violence must be replaced with compassion and empathy for women and for defenseless unborn baby girls and boys.”
Smith’s bill, which was introduced Feb. 5 and has over 130 co-sponsors, also would permanently prevent the federal government from funding abortions; codify the Smith Amendment, which prohibits federal employee health care plans from funding abortion; prohibit federal funding of abortion in several other federal programs throughout government agencies; and ensure that the Affordable Care Act conforms with the Hyde Amendment.
The Hyde Amendment, first enacted nearly 45 years ago, outlaws federal tax dollars from directly funding abortion except in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the woman would be endangered.
Congress must reauthorize the Hyde Amendment annually as an attachment to the appropriations bill for the Department of Health and Human Services. It also restricts abortion funding under the Indian Health Service, Medicare and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
President Joe Biden, also a Catholic, has said he wants to see an end to Hyde. He was a longtime supporter of the amendment, but in June 2019 during a Democratic campaign fundraiser in Atlanta, he said he now is against it in light of Republican-led efforts in some states to see laws passed to restrict abortion.
In introducing the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion measure, Smith cited polling that “consistently shows a majority of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortion — nearly six in 10.”
Survivors Protection Act stalls in Senate
WASHINGTON — The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act was proposed as an amendment to the 2021 Budget Resolution in the Senate, but didn’t advance. In a roll call vote Feb. 4 all Senate Republicans, along with Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, and Bob Casey Jr., D-Pennsylvania, voted in favor of the amendment.
Forty-eight Senate Democrats blocked the amendment, which required 60 votes to pass.
The measure 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. It also requires that, following appropriate care, health care workers must transport the child immediately to a hospital.
Supporters of the measure say current federal law does not sufficiently protect a child born following an abortion, saying evidence exists that some abortion providers do not regard babies born alive during abortions as persons as provided for under the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, enacted by Congress in 2002 with unanimous support.
Under this law, babies who are born alive, whether before or after “viability,” are recognized as full legal persons under federal law.