20, 2004 -- Both houses of Congress
have passed an omnibus spending bill that contains an important
provision strongly supported by National Right to Life, known as
the "Hyde-Weldon anti-discrimination amendment"
or "Hyde-Weldon conscience amendment."
It is expected that the bill will be sent to
President Bush for his signature, and that he will sign it,
before the middle of December.
The Hyde-Weldon Amendment is named for Congressman Henry Hyde (R-Il.)
and Congressman Dave Weldon (R-Fl.). The provision provides that
state and local governments that receive federal health and human
services funds may not discriminate against health care providers
because they do not provide abortions, pay for abortions, provide
coverage of abortions, or refer for abortions. This protection will
cover doctors and other health care professionals, hospitals, HMOs,
and health insurance plans, among others.
Douglas Johnson, legislative director for National Right to
Life, said, "National Right to Life commends the congressional
Republican leadership for this important new law, which will prevent
state and local government officials from compelling health care
providers to participate in killing unborn children."
The amendment was approved last summer by the House
Appropriations Committee and the full House, with support from the
White House. On Nov. 17 the White House sent a letter to House
Appropriations Committee Chairman Bill Young encouraging retention
of the amendment in the omnibus funding bill. The letter said that
the Administration "strongly supports language added by the House to
ensure that health care providers are not discriminated against
because they do not provide, pay for, or cover abortions."
In a press release issued late Friday (Nov. 19), NARAL
called the provision "a major new restriction" and added, "This
measure is the third major piece of the anti-choice agenda the Bush
crowd has gotten through in 12 months." This is an apparent
reference to the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act and the Unborn
Victims of Violence Act (Laci and Conner's Law), signed by President
Bush on November 5, 2003, and April 1, 2004, respectively.
To read a letter sent by National Right to Life to U.S.
House members explaining the need for the Hyde-Weldon
anti-discrimination amendment, click
here. To see other documents on this issue, click
wish to interview a National Right to Life
spokesperson on this issue may call 202-626-8820 (leave your phone
number and e-mail address, please), or send email
The complete text of the Hyde-Weldon provision follows:
(1) None of the funds made available in this Act may be made
available to a Federal agency or program, or to a State or local
government, if such agency, program, or government subjects any
institutional or individual health care entity to discrimination on
the basis that the health care entity does not provide, pay for,
provide coverage of, or refer for abortions. (2) In this
subsection, the term "health care entity" includes an individual
physician or other health care professional, a hospital, a
provider-sponsored organization, a health maintenance organization,
a health insurance plan, or any other kind of health care facility,
organization, or plan.