U.S. Catholic Bishops Call on Congress to Retain Rules That ‘Prevent Taxpayer Funding of Abortions’

By Ashlianna Kreiner | July 13, 2021 | 2:49pm EDT
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

(CNS News) – In reference to the Democrat-dominant Congress’ mark-up of a major financial services bill and a foreign operations bill, the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) pro-life committee urged the lawmakers to “not eliminate the long-standing, bipartisan provisions that prevent taxpayer funding of abortions.”

“The U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Appropriations should not eliminate the long-standing, bipartisan provisions that prevent taxpayer funding of abortions,” said Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop David J. Malloy, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice, in a statement.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The House has been working on the Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) and State, Foreign Operations (SFOPs) appropriations bills. The current incarnations of both bills exclude the bipartisan provisions that prevented taxpayer-funding of elective abortions. 

The FSGG bill that currently excludes the Dornan and Smith Amendments would force taxpayers to fund abortions in the District of Columbia and within the Federal Employees Health Benefit program,” said Bishops Naumann and Malloy.

“Deletion of the Helms Amendment in the SFOPs bill would force taxpayers to fund abortions throughout the world, running contrary to principles of integral human development,” they added.  

Pope Francis  (Getty Images)
Pope Francis (Getty Images)

“The Appropriations Committee must re-insert these provisions, and retain all life-saving, Hyde-related provisions across the various appropriations bills,” said the bishops.

The Helms, Smith, and Dornan Amendments have been used for years and have prevented taxpayer dollars from directly funding abortions.

In its report, “Abortion and Family Planning-Related Provision in U.S. Foreign Assistance Law and Policy,” the Congressional Research Service (CRS) explains that the Helms Amendment (1973) “prohibits the use of U.S. foreign assistance funds to perform abortions or to motivate or coerce individuals to practice abortions.”

The Dornan Amendment (1996) prevents federal funds from being used to pay for abortions in the District of Columbia.

A baby killed by saline-injection abortion.  (Priests for Life)
A baby killed by saline-injection abortion. (Priests for Life)

For the FSGG legislation, however, the House Committee on Appropriations, controlled by Democrats, now declares, “In addition, the bill removes objectionable policy riders previously carried that undermine home rule in the District of Columbia…. Eliminates a ban on the use of local and Federal funds for abortion services.”

Listed under “important policy changes” the committee states that this bill “fosters equality for women and men: Eliminates provisions preventing the FEHBP (Federal Employees Health Benefits) from covering abortion services.”

“The prohibition on taxpayer funding of elective abortion is a consensus policy that is supported by a majority of Americans -- including low-income women, and women of color,” said Naumann and Malloy. “I call on the Appropriations Committee and all members of Congress to protect taxpayers from having to pay for the evil of abortion, and to instead use our tax dollars for the common good and welfare of all.” 

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