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NRL News
Page 11
June 2009
Volume 36
Issue 6

Obama Proposes Tax-Funded Abortion in Nation’s Capital

WASHINGTON—President Obama has urged Congress to repeal a ban on tax-funded abortion in the nation’s capital—the District of Columbia.

The White House submitted the proposal to Congress on May 7, as part of its detailed recommendations for federal spending for the new federal fiscal year that will begin on October 1, 2009.

The White House document asked that Congress repeal a law (often referred to as the Dornan Amendment) that has prevented tax-funded abortion in the District for many years.

Whether the proposal will be implemented depends on actions taken by lawmakers during consideration of one of the appropriations bills that fund all federal programs, which will be acted on this summer and fall. Currently, the Democrats control both houses of Congress by margins of about 3-to-2.

In a statement issued by NRLC on the day of the White House action, NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson said, “Some wide-eyed journalists and various political shills for the Obama Administration continue to write fairy tales about how President Obama wants to pursue policies that would reduce abortions. That is a political scam. In reality, President Obama is pursuing a step-by-step strategy to expand access to abortion, and today’s step is to urge Congress to authorize the funding of abortion on demand in the nation’s capital, with funds appropriated by Congress.”

Article I of the U.S. Constitution says that Congress holds complete legislative authority over the District of Columbia (“exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever”). That is why the entire budget for the District (including revenues generated by local sources) must be appropriated by Congress through an annual appropriations bill.

For many years, the annual bill has contained a provision to prevent the use of any congressionally appropriated funds for abortions (except to save the life of the mother, or in cases of rape or incest). The new White House budget document urges Congress to repeal this ban on the use of congressionally appropriated funds, and replace it with a meaningless bookkeeping requirement that would apply only to funds specifically contributed for federal program purposes—which amounts to a license to fund abortion on demand.

“If Congress goes along with the Obama proposal, the predictable result will be tax funding of several thousand elective abortions annually in the District, including roughly 1,000 abortions annually that would not otherwise occur,” said Johnson. “Any member of Congress who votes for a bill that contains the White House proposal is, in reality, voting for tax-funded abortion on demand with congressionally appropriated funds.”

Pro-abortion groups periodically publish academic studies that demonstrate that policies that bar tax-funded abortions actually prevent one-third or more of the abortions that would otherwise occur among the covered populations.

“The abortion industry’s own studies suggest that many thousands of residents of the nation’s capital are alive today because of the abortion funding ban that President Obama now proposes to repeal,” Johnson said.

From 1988 until 1993, Congress annually included the “Dornan Amendment” ban in the bill. The ban was temporarily lost early in the Clinton Administration, but it was restored in 1996 and has been in continuous effect ever since.

During the period prior to enactment of the Dornan Amendment, and during the time it was suspended in the Clinton Administration, the city government paid for elective abortion on demand with congressionally appropriated public funds. (Indeed, the city government illegally continued to pay for abortions for two years after the ban was restored in 1996, according to press reports.)

During the congressional debates of the 1990s, evidence was cited that indicated that the city’s abortion-funding policy was among the most permissive in the nation, and was not even limited to Medicaid-eligible clients. Elizabeth Reveal, D.C. budget director at the time, “confirmed that the District’s government has a policy of funding abortion on demand and does not attempt to determine the circumstances of the pregnancy.” (Philadelphia Inquirer, August 1, 1985.) In 1994, then-Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly authorized the use of $1,000,000 from the Medical Charities fund, which was originally set up to help indigent AIDS patients, to pay for abortions.

“The White House recommendation is one more piece of evidence that President Obama is trying to pull off a massive policy scam—he generates a smokescreen of soothing rhetoric about seeking ‘common ground’ and ‘abortion reduction,’ while step by step advancing concrete policies that will substantially increase the number of abortions—and pay for abortion on demand with everyone’s taxes,” Johnson said.

The next step, Johnson suggested, would be “an attempt to smuggle vast expansions of abortion into law through health care reform legislation.” Obama met with Planned Parenthood in 2007 and promised that mandatory abortion coverage would be “at the center, the heart of” his health care reform legislation. (See story, page 1.)