House OKs ban on abortion training funds
WASHINGTON (BP)--The U.S. House of Representatives approved May 25 a measure that would bar federal funding for the training of medical residents to perform abortions.
The House voted 234-182 for an amendment by Rep. Virginia Foxx, R.-N.C., that would have the following effects on a new program established by last year's controversial health-care reform law:
-- Prohibit the project, which helps teaching health centers form or enlarge residency programs, from funding abortions.
-- Ban money in the program from paying for the training of abortion doctors.
-- Bar health centers funded through the program from discriminating against residents and other health-care professionals who refuse to provide or refer for abortions.
The roll-call vote on Foxx's amendment broke down largely along party lines: 221 Republicans and 13 Democrats voted for the proposal, while 172 Democrats and 10 GOP members opposed it.
"Should taxpayers foot the bill for elective abortions or to train abortion doctors? I don't think so," Foxx said in a written statement after the vote. "If organizations want to provide elective abortions or train abortion doctors they need to find someone other than taxpayers to write the checks. Taxpayers should not be on the hook for subsidizing the abortion industry."
The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and other pro-life organizations supported Foxx's amendment.
Two leading abortion rights organizations -- the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and NARAL Pro-choice America -- sharply criticized the amendment.
Pro-life congressional members "will use any bill to launch attacks on a woman's right to choose," NARAL President Nancy Keenan said in a written release after the vote.
"Regardless of how one feels about legal abortion, reasonable lawmakers can agree that doctors should be as well trained as possible to deal with any medical situation that may arise," she said.
The reaction of Planned Parenthood and NARAL to the amendment "makes it crystal clear that they want the federal taxpayer to fund training of the next generation of abortionists," said Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee. "In fact, pro-abortion activists are also trying to make it impossible to become certified in and to practice in some medical fields without participating in providing abortions."
Johnson called for stronger federal laws to protect pro-life medical providers against discrimination.
Foxx's amendment came to a bill, H.R. 1216, that would change the 2010 health care law's required appropriation for some graduate medical training programs to one that must be approved yearly by Congress. The House approved H.R. 1216 in a 234-185 roll call later May 25.
The 13 Democrats who voted for Foxx's amendment were Reps. Jason Altmire of Pennsylvania, Dan Boren of Oklahoma, Jerry Costello of Illinois, Mark Critz of Pennsylvania, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Tim Holden of Pennsylvania, Dale Kildee of Michigan, Dan Lipinski of Illinois, Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, Collin Peterson of Minnesota, Nick Rahall of West Virginia, Mike Ross of Arkansas and Heath Shuler of North Carolina.
The 10 Republicans who opposed the amendment were Reps. Charles Bass of New Hampshire, Judy Biggert of Illinois, Brian Bilbray of California, Mary Bono Mack of California, Shelley Capito of West Virginia, Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, Robert Dold of Illinois, Michael Grimm of New York, Richard Hanna of New York and Joe Heck of Nevada.
Compiled by staff of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.