Pro-Life Groups Warn Against Abortion Funding in COVID Relief

According to a recent Knights of Columbus/Marist poll, more than three-quarters of Americans opposed taxpayer funding of abortions overseas, and 58% of respondents opposed taxpayer-funded abortions in the U.S.

United States Capitol building in Washington, D.C.
United States Capitol building in Washington, D.C. (photo: David Evison / Shutterstock)

WASHINGTON — Pro-life groups are warning against increased funding of abortions in Congress’ proposed COVID relief legislation.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List), stated on Wednesday that “House Democrats are shamefully pushing a massive expansion of abortion on demand, paid for with tax dollars, in the guise of COVID-19 relief – including payouts to abortion giant Planned Parenthood.”

The House Energy and Commerce Committee commenced a hearing to consider a massive COVID relief proposal on Thursday morning. The proposal includes funding for vaccine distribution, national testing, and community health services.

However, SBA List noted that the proposal contains billions of dollars in health care funding but without specific prohibitions on funding of abortions—meaning that the funding could go toward abortions, abortion coverage, or abortion providers.

The proposal contains $750 million for global health and billions of dollars for community health centers but without “Hyde Amendment” provisions, SBA List said. The Hyde Amendment prohibits federal funding of elective abortions in health care and has been part of congressional appropriations for decades; leading Democrats have said they intend to reverse the policy this year.

The proposal also includes $50 million for the Title X family planning program, and expanded subsidies towards health plans that cover abortions, SBA List said. In particular, the funding of Title X could go to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers if the Biden administration — as expected — repeals an existing prohibition on Title X funding of groups that refer for abortions.

“Polls consistently show that the overwhelming majority of Americans, including millions of rank-and-file Democrats, are opposed to bankrolling abortion businesses whether in this country or overseas,” Dannenfelser said.

According to a Jan. 27 Knights of Columbus/Marist poll, more than three-quarters of Americans opposed taxpayer funding of abortions overseas, and 58% of respondents opposed taxpayer-funded abortions in the U.S.

In addition, an Economist/YouGov poll published on Feb. 4 found that Americans disapproved of President Biden’s decision to repeal the Mexico City Policy, by a margin of 42% to 36%. The Mexico City Policy forbids U.S. funding of foreign organizations that promote or perform abortions.

Efforts are also underway to block federal funding of Planned Parenthood in COVID relief. On Wednesday, SBA List thanked Rep. Roger Williams, R-Texas, for introducing an amendment to clarify that Planned Parenthood was not eligible for PPP loans.

Congress set up the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) in March to provide emergency loans to small businesses and eligible non-profits to keep employees on payroll during the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the rules of the program, Planned Parenthood affiliates were supposed to be ineligible for the loans, but affiliates applied for and received around $80 million in PPP loans anyway.

Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., on Tuesday also tried to add an amendment to a budget reconciliation bill blocking taxpayer funding of abortions, but Democrats on the House Education and Labor Committee blocked the amendment in a 27-21 party line vote.

The group Democrats for Life of America tweeted on Thursday that “If @TheDemocrats codify Roe and repeal the Hyde Amendment, they can kiss the House and Senate goodbye in 2022. Let's not sacrifice our entire legislative agenda for something like this.”

Although Republican members of the House and Senate have signed statements pledging to uphold the Hyde Amendment, Democratic leaders have signaled that they are prepared to pass COVID relief bills on a simple majority vote, with or without Republican support.

The U.S. bishops’ conference (USCCB) has asked members of Congress to not include funding for abortions in the upcoming COVID relief bill.

United States Capitol building

House Passes COVID Relief, Pro-Life Groups Warn it Funds Abortion

In his remarks on the House Floor on Friday evening, the co-chair of the House Pro-Life Caucus, Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., called the exclusion of pro-life language “a radical departure from all previous COVID-19 relief laws,” and one which “mandates taxpayer funding of abortion-on-demand."