Ban on Taxpayer Abortion Funding Passes U.S. House

The bipartisan legislation, however, has an uncertain future in the U.S. Senate, where Democratic majority leaders oppose it.

Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn.
Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn. (photo: Addie Mena/CNA)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives passed bipartisan legislation on Tuesday to restrict further federal abortion funding. 

Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., a co-sponsor of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, praised the 227-118 vote in the House, which passed the bill on Jan. 28.

“This commonsense, bipartisan legislation will protect American taxpayers from footing the bill for the barbaric practice of abortion, in turn helping to protect women’s health and unborn life,” she said.

Black said her experiences as a nurse witnessing “countless” births, and also the loss of a woman’s life in an abortion, have informed her belief that all life is “a precious gift.”

“I hope to see the day that this truth is reflected in our nation’s laws. But until then, we can — at the very least — protect the values and consciences of millions of American taxpayers by passing this legislation,” she said.

The bill would bar federal funds from being used to support elective abortion in the United States.

Such a funding ban has been incorporated into most funding appropriations bills for close to 40 years through a provision known as the Hyde Amendment.

However, pro-life lawmakers have argued that the amendment has been implemented inconsistently, and they have noted that it allows some funding of abortion in limited cases.

Supporters of the new bill have also noted several gaps in current restrictions on federal moneys for abortion. Several legal provisions set up by the 2010 Affordable Care Act bypass existing restrictions and appropriate their own funds.

Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., another of the bill’s 165 co-sponsors, said that the legislation would fulfill President Barack Obama’s promises that his plan for universal health-insurance coverage would not use federal dollars for abortion.

Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, also applauded the bill’s passage, stressing the need for “permanent” legislation to prohibit taxpayer funding of abortion rather than relying on “a patchwork of policies like the Hyde Amendment.”

“Ending taxpayer funding of abortion is the will of the people and ought to be the law of the land,” he said.

Black explained that the legislation is “not about taking away anyone’s choice” for legal abortion, but, rather, about “giving a choice to the vast majority of Americans who don’t want their hard-earned tax dollars funding the destruction of innocent life.”

The bill now goes to the U.S. Senate, where its passage faces tough odds, as the chamber’s Democratic majority leaders have vowed to fight it.