|For Immediate Release
March 3, 2011
Contact: Kim Smith Hicks, 202-225-3951
Statement of Chairman Lamar Smith
Markup of “H.R. 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act”
Chairman Smith: I understand that many Members, and the American people, have strong feelings about the subject of abortion.
While there are strong views on both sides of this issue, one thing is clear, and that is the federal funding of abortion will lead to more abortions.
Just a few years after the Supreme Court handed down Roe v. Wade, federal dollars were financing an estimated 300,000 abortions per year. In response, Representative Henry Hyde introduced the Hyde Amendment to end the federal funding of abortion, and the success of that law over the years is undeniable.
In 2009, there were only 220 government-financed abortions. And the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the federal government would pay for as many as 675,000 extra abortions each year without the Hyde Amendment and other provisions in the law that prevent federal funding of abortion.
The American people don’t want federally funded abortions. A 2010 Zogby poll found that 77% of Americans said that federal funds should never pay for abortion or should pay only to save the life of the mother. This is the policy of the Hyde Amendment, which H.R. 3 would enact into law.
H.R. 3 does not ban abortion. It also does not restrict abortions, or abortion coverage in health care plans, as long as those abortions or plans use only private or State funds.
Now is the time for Congress to pass one piece of legislation that prohibits the federal funding of abortions and prohibits the use of fiscal policy to encourage or subsidize abortions.
The “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” will establish a government-wide prohibition on abortion funding by making permanent the various policies Congress has implemented on a case-by-case basis, including:
the Hyde amendment, which prohibits funding for elective abortion coverage through any program funded through the annual Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Act,
the Helms amendment, which prohibits funding for abortion as a method of family planning overseas,
the Chris Smith amendment, which prohibits funding for elective abortion coverage for federal employees, and
the Dornan amendment, which prohibits use of congressionally appropriated funds for abortion in the District of Columbia.
H.R. 3 codifies the Hyde-Weldon conscience clause that is part of the Hyde amendment. That conscience clause ensures that recipients of federal funding do not discriminate against health care providers, including doctors, nurses and hospitals, when the providers do not provide, pay for, or provide coverage of abortions.
H.R. 3 is also necessary to fill a void left by the recent health care law. Absolutely nothing in that law prevents the federal funding of abortions under the programs it creates.
In a last-minute effort, the President said he would sign an executive order that claimed to limit federal funding of abortions. That was offered instead of the Stupak Amendment.
But an executive order cannot trump the text of legislation enacted by Congress. As the Congressional Research Service has made clear, “Executive orders cannot override statutory provisions.”
In fact, the executive order President Obama signed contains the same boilerplate language contained in all executive orders, which makes it clear the executive order cannot do anything contrary to the language of the statutory text.
Further, even if the executive order had any effect, it could be rescinded at any time at the President’s discretion.
In a recent interview with the Chicago Tribune editorial board, former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel emphasized that the executive order signed by President Obama does not carry the force of law, and for that reason was approved by former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others who oppose a ban on taxpayer funding of abortion.
The Stupak Amendment would have prohibited the federal funding of abortions under the new health care law. But Mr. Emanuel said “I came up with an idea for an executive order to allow the Stupak amendment not to exist in law.”
So Congress must pass H.R. 3 to put into law a ban on the federal funding of abortions.