Freshman Congresswoman Appointed as Pro-Life Caucus Co-Chair
In the state senate, Rep. Michelle Fischbach, R-Minn., wrote Minnesota’s Women’s Right to Know Act, which requires women undergoing an abortion to be informed of certain medical risks assocated with abortion.
WASHINGTON — The new co-chair of the House Pro-Life Caucus says that a top priority for her is fighting taxpayer funding of abortion and abortion providers.
Rep. Michelle Fischbach, R-Minn., was appointed co-chair of the House Pro-Life Caucus this week. A freshman congresswoman elected to the House last November, she previously served as the first female president of the Minnesota state senate and as the state’s lieutenant governor.
In the state senate, she wrote Minnesota’s Women’s Right to Know Act, which requires women undergoing an abortion to be informed of certain medical risks assocated with abortion.
Fischbach told CNA in an interview on Thursday that one of her first priorities as caucus co-chair will be to defend the Hyde Amendment, federal policy since 1976 which bars taxpayer funding of most elective abortions through Medicaid.
“We need to continue that fight,” she said, noting that she is “very excited and very honored” by her appointment to the caucus.
“It’s a very important issue to my family and it's one of those fundamental things that it’s so important we work to defend,” Fischbach said.
Democratic leaders in recent years have called for the repeal of the Hyde amendment, which has been passed into law each year as a rider to budget legislation.
President Joe Biden recently excluded the policy from his budget request submitted to Congress, the first step toward Congress eventually passing government funding bills that do not include the policy - and thus that would allow for abortion funding.
While Democrats appear to have the votes to pass appropriations bills without the Hyde amendment, it is unclear if such legislation would clear the Senate. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., seen as a crucial swing vote in the chamber, has pledged his support of the Hyde amendment.
Fischbach said she is also fighting federal funding of abortion providers. The Title X program, which provides grants for contraceptives and family planning, prohibits direct funding of abortions. The Biden administration, however, has moved to allow Title X grants to once again go to groups that refer for abortions or are co-located with abortion clinics - such as Planned Parenthood affiliates.
Fischbach said that a bill she has authored, the Protecting Life and Taxpayers Act of 2021, would block taxpayer funding of entities that perform abortions.
“What we’re trying to do is on another level, like the Hyde amendment, block funds from going to grant recipients performing abortions,” Fischbach said.
Fischbach criticized the recent re-introduction of the Women’s Health Protection Act, a bill that would override many state abortion regulations - like the one she authored in Minnesota.
“The states are able to regulate things, and the federal government should not be telling them what they can and cannot do,” she said. “And so I don’t support them being able to pull all of those protections the states have done for the unborn.”
In statements, Reps. Chris Smith,R-N.J., and Andy Harris, R-Md., the other co chairs of the House Pro-Life Caucus, welcomed Fischbach to the role.
Calling her a “steadfast champion of life,” Smith said that Fischbach’s “effective leadership could not come at a better time as we work to restore protections for the weakest and most vulnerable: the unborn baby.”
Harris said that “Rep. Fischbach is a welcome addition to our leadership team and widely supported by all those fighting for life.”
Fischbach is scheduled to discuss her new role on the caucus during an interview on EWTN Pro-Life Weekly next week.