End to taxpayer abortion funding called long overdue

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The effort to make permanent a ban on federal funding of abortion is both long overdue and widely supported by Americans, an official of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops told a House subcommittee Feb. 8.

Richard M. Doerflinger, associate director of the USCCB Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, was one of three witnesses testifying on the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, H.R. 3, before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution.

“H.R. 3 is a well-crafted and reasonable measure to maintain long-standing and widely supported policies against active government promotion of abortion,” he said. “It consistently applies to all branches of the federal government the principle that government can encourage childbirth over abortion through its funding power, and that it should not coerce anyone’s involvement in abortion.”

In his testimony, Doerflinger cited past surveys showing that the Hyde amendment — attached to annual Department of Health and Human Services appropriations bills since 1976 — has “consistently had the support of the American people,” with many wrongly assuming that “it is already fully implemented at all levels of our federal government.” He also said: “The fact is that Congress’ policy has been remarkably consistent for decades, but the implementation of that policy in practice has been piecemeal, confusing and sometimes sadly inadequate.”

Gaps and loopholes have been found that allowed or could have allowed for the funding of abortions through the Indian Health Service, state Medicaid funding to HMOs and Medicare reimbursements for nonelderly disabled people, he added. He urged Congress to “finally put a stop to this ungainly mechanism and simply apply the principle of the Hyde amendment across the federal government once and for all.”

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