September 8, 2017
House Financial Services Appropriations Bill contains new prolife riders, amendments expected
This House appropriations bill carries a significant amount of excellent prolife language. In addition to continuing longstanding riders like the Hyde, which prohibits Federal Medicaid dollars for paying for elective abortion, there are several new pro-life policies that would change current law if enacted.
There is a provision based on the Conscience Protection Act. The Conscience Protection Act would prohibit any level of government from mandating that health care providers participate in abortion. It would protect doctors, nurses, hospitals, and health plans (and employers who purchase the plans). Most importantly, the language empowers those who are affected by abortion mandates to file private lawsuits in federal courts – without the need for intervention by the pro-abortion activists who draw paychecks at the federal Department of Health and Human Services.
Another provision would prevent funding for fetal tissue research from induced abortion. An additional provision would nullify DC’s dangerous and recently enacted assisted suicide law.
There are expected to be dozens of amendments, with two of pro-life interest. As reported by the Appropriations Committee, the bill includes language to make null and void the so-called “budget autonomy” law enacted by local officials of the District of Columbia. National Right to Life sent a letter to the House urging them to vote against the Norton Amendment which would delete this crucial provision from the bill. The Norton amendment would mean continuing to allow District officials to hijack over $8 billion annually in funds that the Constitution and the Home Rule Act place under congressional authority, opening the door to use of these funds to pay for elective abortions or other illicit purposes.
The other amendment relates to the so-called “Reproductive Health Nondiscrimination Act” (RHNDA), a local law enacted by the District Council in 2014.
The RHNDA prohibits employers within the District from engaging in “discrimination” on the basis of “decisions” reached by employees, or potential employees, regarding “reproductive health” matters. It is not disputed that abortion is among the matters encompassed by the term “reproductive health” as used in the new law. The scope of the RHNDA is very broad, covering any “decisions” that are “related to the use . . . of a particular . . . medical service . . .” [emphasis added]
We are urging the House to vote in favor of the Palmer Amendment to curb implementation of the “Reproductive Health Nondiscrimination Act.”
While we can expect that many of these prolife provisions will not become law, the bill serves as a strong prolife starting point.
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