Will Congress Ban Abortion and Assisted Suicide Funding in the District of Columbia?

Newt Gingrich tells the Register prospects are good for the move, under the new administration and Congress.

WASHINGTON — With control of Congress and the White House, Republicans hope to permanently ban the District of Columbia’s funding of abortion and its new physician-assisted suicide law.

Each is the right thing to do at the right time, says Catholic convert and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

“They can do this because of D.C.’s unique status, and they should do so,” Gingrich, a prominent Trump supporter, told the Register Jan. 19, on the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration as the 45th president of the United States.

Constitutionally, the district falls under the jurisdiction of Congress.

“There is no question about the legal authority of Congress to do these things,” Gingrich said.

Past Republican plans to stop district tax dollars from funding abortions were met with veto threats by President Barack Obama, who advocated for abortion rights.

Congress has traditionally forbidden the district from funding abortions, but that changed in 2009, when Democrats controlled Congress and the White House. In the first two years, reported The Associated Press in 2011, district taxes funded more than 300 abortions in the predominantly African-American city of about 650,000 residents.

President Trump ran on a platform that included a pledge to stop federal funding of Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion business in the country. Republicans suspect he will sign a bill banning district funding, based on his promise to stop federal funding.

“I believe we have a White House and a Congress that see things increasingly similarly — there has been a decided trend line in favor of life,” said Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., as quoted Jan. 19 in The Washington Post. Smith introduced the bill to ban the district’s abortion funding.


Would Save Lives

Father Edward Moran, assistant to the president of Divine Mercy University in the Washington suburb of Alexandria, Virginia, believes a ban on municipal abortion funding will save lives. He is confident Trump will sign the bill.

“There will be strong and well-organized opposition to this effort,” Father Moran said. “Getting it through Congress is going to be a process to watch. We’ve seen the obfuscation and stonewalling in some of the confirmation hearings, and I think it will ratchet up and intensify because the abortion lobby tends to be well-organized and very well-funded.”

Father Moran believes the move to stop Washington’s physician-assisted suicide law will also become a big fight in Congress and that it’s an effort Catholics should support.

“These suicide laws turn a physician into a different kind of person,” Father Moran said. “I think it robs the credibility of a health provider. I do believe and hope it will be stopped by the Republican Congress.”

Father Moran has a master’s of science in psychology from the Institute for the Psychological Sciences, part of Divine Mercy University, which specializes in training Catholic psychotherapists and counselors with a curriculum guided by the “theology of the body” teachings of St. John Paul II.

Speaking from a psychological perspective, Father Moran believes suicide laws are harmful to people suffering from temporary or long-term mental illness.

“Suicide laws — such as we see in Colorado, Oregon and the district — tend to legitimize a kind of myopia people have when they get so depressed they want to kill themselves. It’s definitely a psychological condition in need of real therapeutic help,” Father Moran said.

Father Moran believes assisted suicide closes people down, during vulnerable moments, to “the purpose of life, God’s plan for their lives, and why it is we have suffering.”

“The dehumanization that happens with laws like this continues the dehumanization of the culture,” he said. “I think people should look at who’s behind these laws, and always follow the money.”

Father Moran and other critics of assisted suicide believe insurance companies and government entities in the health care business get a financial benefit from legal physician-assisted suicide.

“As health care becomes increasingly institutionalized, there is more impersonal financial interest in encouraging and allowing people to terminate themselves,” Father Moran said. “It mitigates costs.”


Monetary Motivations

Dr. William Toffler, professor of family medicine at Oregon Health & Science University, has seen firsthand how insurance companies refuse to pay for costly lifesaving drugs while offering to cover assisted suicide.

“The law has changed the relationship between doctors and patients, some of whom now fear that they are being steered toward assisted suicide,” Toffler wrote in a letter he shared with the Register.

Gingrich told the Register he can think of a lot of financial incentives for encouraging assisted suicide, including protection of inheritance funds from an elderly patient’s mounting medical bills.

“I’m very cautious about right-to-die laws because they can become right-for-your-relatives-to-kill-you laws,” Gingrich said. “Congress has good reason to consider overturning the district’s law.”


Wayne Laugesen filed this report from Washington, D.C.