Life Advocacy Briefing

January 20, 2014

Funding Ban on Tap / Pro-Life Riders Maintained in Comprehensive Spending Bill
Mandate Appeal Moves Forward in High Court / Media Swing?
Free Speech Case to Go All the Way Up / Co-Sponsors of HR-7
Protection for Babies … and Taxpayers

Funding Ban on Tap

LEGISLATION TO BAR TAXPAYER FUNDING OF ABORTION – including via ObamaCare – is beginning to move in the US House and could arise for a vote at any time, now that the Committee on Judiciary has undertaken its “markup” process.

HR-7 was filed last May by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), co-chairman of the House Pro-Life Caucus, and now boasts 154 co-sponsors. It would make the Hyde Amendment permanent and would extend its protections over the entire federal government; the annual Hyde appropriations amendment addresses spending by the Dept. of Health & Human Services (HHS), which covers most but not all of federal expenditures related to abortion.

“‘The policy we are discussing,’” said Judiciary Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), quoted by Dustin Siggins in, “‘has likely given America the gift of millions more children … millions more mothers, and millions more fathers – millions more lifetimes – and trillions more loving gestures and other human gifts in all their diverse forms.’” He cited estimates from the Congressional Budget Office, notes Mr. Siggins, “that as many as 675,000 abortions have been prevented every year due to the Hyde Amendment,” first put forth by the late pro-life champion Rep. Henry J. Hyde in 1976 and enacted every year since, often with a battle.

An attempt to amend HR-7 in committee was mounted by Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI), who sought unsuccessfully to remove the ban on taxpayer-funded abortions in the District of Columbia. The amendment followed a hallway denunciation of HR-7 by abortion fans including DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), who, reports Hannah Hess for Roll Call, “protest[ed] the lack of women representing the Republican majority of the Judiciary Committee, calling the proposal ‘an insult to the people I represent’ that ‘snatches authority from a local jurisdiction.’”

Actually, Mrs. Norton and her abortion claque refuse to acknowledge that the US Constitution itself confers on Congress authority over the seat of government. Chairman Goodlatte, reports Ms. Hess, “said the entire budget for the District of Columbia, including revenues generated by local sources, must be approved by Congress. ‘Clearly,’” he said, “‘Congress bears Constitutional responsibility for the use of these funds, and so Congress bears a responsibility to protect the innocent lives of unborn children in the nation’s capital.’”

A companion measure in the Senate, S-946, was filed last May by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) and some 24 co-sponsors and has not moved since being assigned to the Committee on Finance.

Readers are asked to contact US Representatives and request their vote in favor of HR-7, which, noted in committee testimony by US Conference of Catholic Bishops spokesman Richard Doerflinger and quoted by Mr. Siggins, “‘will write into permanent law a policy on which there has been strong popular and Congressional agreement for over 35 years. The federal government,’” he said, “‘should not use its funding power to support or promote abortion.’”

Lawmakers can be contacted via the Capitol switchboard at 1-202/224-3121.


Pro-Life Riders Maintained in Comprehensive Spending Bill

CONGRESS HAS PASSED A MASSIVE SPENDING BILL TO FUND the federal government – across all agencies – through Sept. 30, going back to the long-time custom of adopting funding legislation rather than a mere, short-term Continuing Resolution.

The bill was passed as a comprehensive package rather than piecemealing a few departments in separate legislation, presenting a major challenge for the Washington lobbyist corps, notes Family Research Council (FRC) president Tony Perkins in his Jan. 14 Washington Update.

Key for FRC – and for the pro-life cause altogether – were the traditional abortion-related protections, and Mr. Perkins reports the “key policy riders” were maintained. He lists the Hyde Amendment, the Helms and Dornan amendments “and other amendments that ban taxpayer-funded abortions in DC, the federal government and foreign aid.

“After a long battle,” reports the FRC chief, “we also managed to gouge $10 million from ‘family planning’ funds for organizations like Planned Parenthood in Title X [Ten] and preserve the modest $5 million allotted for abstinence education.” In battling the Senate’s Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and the White House, these victories deserve a prayer of thanks, though much work must be done to advance beyond them. (Elections have consequences, and the Senate in 2014 offers a pivotal battleground.)

The most significant shortfall in the budget battle came in the failure of Republicans, writes Mr. Perkins, “to achieve one of the biggest priorities of the pro-life community: attaching conscience protections to a must-pass piece of legislation. As Sen. Mikulski said,” quoted by Mr. Perkins, “‘ObamaCare lives another day.’ But for millions of Americans, religious liberty does not. …

“Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) pushed intently behind the scenes,” Mr. Perkins notes, “for language that would spare Americans from paying for pills and procedures that violate their beliefs – but in the end, the White House won out.”

Still, there was one advance in the ObamaCare war, which must have made Planned Parenthood unhappy. “Although the bill makes no meaningful dent in ObamaCare,” writes Mr. Perkins, “it does take a billion-dollar bite out of the program’s slush fund.”


Mandate Appeal Moves Forward in High Court

THE U.S. SUPREME COURT LAST WEEK ANNOUNCED it has scheduled March 25 for oral arguments in the appeals by retail giant Hobby Lobby and cabinet maker Conestoga Wood Specialties against the Obama Regime’s assault on religious liberty issued by the Dept. of Health & Human Services, mandating employers to include abortifacients and sterilization procedures in ObamaCare insurance coverage. The Court consolidated the two cases, and the outcome is expected to reverberate through dozens of other lawsuits pending at lower levels.

Hobby Lobby is represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty; attorneys for Conestoga Wood are provided by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). Both companies are owned and operated by Christian families, Conestoga by a Pennsylvania Mennonite family named Hahn and the midwest-based Hobby Lobby by an evangelical Christian family named Green.

The brief filed with the Supreme Court on Jan. 10 explains, reports ADF in a news advisory, “that the Obama Administration’s ‘argument is inconsistent with the reality of religious liberty in Americans’ daily lives. There is no separating the Hahns’ faith from their business or its actions. The members of the Hahn family, as Mennonite Christians, practice their faith in everything they do, including the running of their business. … The mandate … forces them to choose between violating their religious convictions and incurring ruinous fines and lawsuits. No compelling interest justifies imposing such a Hobson’s choice, particularly given the government’s exclusion of thousands of other employers from the mandate’s scope.’”

ADF’s news release indicates threatened fines “could cost the family $95,000 per day if it doesn’t agree to live contrary to its Christian convictions, according to 3rd Circuit Judge Kent Jordan’s dissent in the case” at the appellate level.

Threatened fines against Hobby Lobby, because of the substantial number of its employees, would total some $1.3 million per day.

Hobby Lobby president Steve Green, in an earlier interview, told The Christian Post, “‘our Founders gave us the religious freedoms that we have today, and as a business we have the right to live according to those freedoms. … The government is saying we have to provide prescriptions that are abortive and that violate our conscience, because we believe that life begins at conception and it’s something that we have no desire to fully fund, which is what the mandate requires,’ said [Mr.] Green.

“‘We know that some of the freedoms in the First Amendment are available to for-profit companies,’” Mr. Green continued in the Christian Post story. “‘But for some reason, the government says that in the religious freedoms, that a for-profit company does not have those rights. I don’t know where they see that. That’s what the government is arguing in the courts.’”


Media Swing?

THE PLAINTIFFS APPEAR TO BE WINNING PUBLIC SYMPATHY, reports Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins. “After two years of duking it out over religious liberty,” he writes in his Jan. 13 Washington Update, “the courts and public polling seem to be firmly on the right side of the healthcare mandate. Now,” he asserts, “it looks like the mainstream media is moving in our direction too.

“Newspapers like USA Today may be late to the party,” writes Mr. Perkins, “but its latest op-ed on HHS’s abortifacient-contraception mandate shows the deep splinters in the Administration’s coalition. For the first time in two years,” he notes, “editors are calling the mandate a ‘political loser,’ openly blasting the President’s rule as ‘constitutionally suspect,’ ‘foolish’ and ‘unproductive.’”


Free Speech Case to Go All the Way Up

THE U.S. SUPREME COURT AGREED LAST WEEK to take up an appeal by the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List (SBA) in a challenge to an Ohio law which stymies political speech.

The petition seeks to overturn Ohio’s “false statement” law, under which former Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-OH) has sought to punish SBA for having sought to post billboards in his district citing his vote favoring ObamaCare as a vote in favor of taxpayer-funded abortion, a reality which has proved both true and perceptive as the massive law is implemented by the Obama Regime.

The major pro-life political action committee brought suit against the law because of its chilling effect violating the First Amendment to the Constitution. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against SBA, but the Supreme Court has now taken the case. A federal district judge did rule a year ago that the SBA’s statements about the one-term Democrat were not defamatory. But that victory did not block future use of the speech-suppressive statute.

“Americans deserve to know and speak the truth about their elected officials,” declared Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Brett Harvey in an ADF news release about the Supreme Court’s agreement to review the statute. “The Ohio law,” he said, “unconstitutionally places a muzzle on citizens in complete contrast to the First Amendment’s free-speech protections.”


Co-Sponsors of HR-7

Republican Representatives Aderholt, Bachus, Roby & Rogers (AL); Franks, Salmon & Schweikert (AZ); Cotton, Crawford, Griffin & Womack (AR); Calvert, LaMalfa & Royce (CA); Lamborn (CO); Bilirakis, Buchanan, Crenshaw, DeSantis, Miller, Nugent, Ros-Lehtinen, Ross, Southerland & Webster (FL); Broun, Collins, Gingrey, Kingston, Price, A. Scott, Westmoreland & Woodall (GA); R. Davis, Hultgren, Kinzinger, Roskam, Schock & Shimkus (IL); Messer, Rokita, Stutzman, Walorski & Young (IN); King & Latham (IA); Huelskamp, Pompeo & Yoder (KS); Guthrie, Rogers, Massie & Whitfield (KY); Boustany, Cassidy, Fleming & Scalise (LA); Harris (MD); Amash, Benishek, Bentivolio, Huizenga, Rogers & Walberg (MI); Bachmann & Kline (MN); Harper, Nunnelee & Palazzo (MS); Hartzler, Long, Luetkemeyer, Smith & Wagner (MO); Daines (MT); Fortenberry, Smith & Terry (NE).

Also, GOP Representatives Garrett (NJ); Pearce (NM); King (NY); Ellmers, Foxx, Holding, Hudson, Jones, Meadows & Pittenger (NC); Cramer (ND); Chabot, Gibbs, Johnson, Jordan, Joyce, Latta, Stivers, Tiberi, Turner & Wenstrup (OH); Bridenstine, Cole, Lankford & Mullin (OK); Barletta, Kelly, Marino, Murphy, Pitts, Rothfus & Shuster (PA); Duncan, Gowdy, Mulvaney & Wilson (SC);  Black, Blackburn, DesJarlais, Duncan, Fincher, Fleischmann & Roe (TN); Barton, Brady, Burgess, Carter, Conaway, Farenthold, Flores, Gohmert, Hall, Hensarling, Marchant, McCaul, Neugebauer, Olson, Poe, Sessions, Smith, Stockman, Thornberry & Weber (TX); Bishop & Stewart (UT); Forbes, Goodlatte & Wolf (VA); McKinley (WV); and Duffy, Ribble & Sensenbrenner (WI).

Democratic Representatives Lipinski (IL) and Rahall (WV). Also Delegate Bordallo (D-GU).

Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-LA) also co-sponsored the bill at introduction but has since left office.


Protection for Babies … and Taxpayers

Commentary by Family Research Council president Tony Perkins in his Jan. 10, 2014, Washington Update

Sending in your taxes shouldn’t mean signing over your beliefs. But when it comes to issues like abortion, that’s exactly what the Obama administration is asking America to do. As pro-lifers, we have fought to give the medical community a way out of procedures they object to. As taxpayers, we deserve that same protection. No one should be forced into partnership with an industry that spills the blood of innocent unborn humans. And if Congressmen Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Dan Lipinski (D-IL) get their way, no one will.

For years, they’ve been fighting to build a wall between taxpayer dollars and pro-abortion programs. In 2011, their “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” sailed through the House only to die at the Senate’s front door. This year, the duo is trying again. With more than 145 co-sponsors, HR-7 would ensure that you and I aren’t reluctant shareholders in the nation’s abortion business – in ObamaCare, domestic spending and even foreign aid.

Yesterday, the House debated the bill in a feisty hearing of the House Judiciary Subcommittee. As always, emotions were close to the surface as the two parties sniped back and forth on the need for such a law. Not surprisingly, Democrats spent most of their time trying to persuade people that the bill would somehow ban abortion. Don’t believe it. In fact, the legislation explicitly states that anyone who wants health insurance with abortion coverage or supplemental abortion coverage can purchase it – just not with federal dollars.

Congressman Jerrold Nadler (R-NY), who never misses an opportunity to mislead people on abortion-neutral legislation, insisted that “HR-7 is a radical departure from current tax treatment of medical expenses and insurance coverage, and it is neither justifiable nor necessary to prevent federal funding of abortion.” No, Rep. Robert Goodlatte (R-VA) fired back, “The real radical departure here is the fact that now we will have, for the first time, federal subsidies of health insurance policies [that include abortion] in America.”

With ObamaCare barreling down the track, people on both sides of the issue recognize the importance of pulling the plug on taxpayer involvement. At last check, a whopping 67% of Americans agreed. Unfortunately for them, the health care law has only entangled taxpayers deeper in the web of abortion. From the government’s abortion surcharge to the abortion-heavy DC plans, Americans are more implicated than ever in the procedure that a majority oppose.

Another one of the Left’s convenient talking points is that the country doesn’t need HR-7 because it has the Hyde Amendment (which strips taxpayer funding of abortion in appropriations bills). But unlike HR-7, the Hyde Amendment has to be reauthorized every year to stay in effect. The “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” would save Congress from that annual fight and create a permanent, government-wide ban on abortion funding – not just for appropriations bills, but health care bills, overseas aid, and anything else that Congress subsidizes. Susan Woods, the Democrats’ witness at Thursday’s hearing, also claimed the bill would end private coverage of abortion, which is ridiculous on its face. This may come as a shock to liberals, but just because the government doesn’t fund something doesn’t mean it ceases to exist.

Despite what the Left would have you believe, the Smith-Lipinski measure wouldn’t outlaw abortion, it would just make the government neutral on the question of taxpayer funding. That’s what Americans want, and it’s what our unborn citizens deserve.