The president's action revoked the Dornan Amendment, which has barred federal and local funds for D.C. from paying for abortions since 1996. The spending measure's language says it prohibits federal funding of abortions in D.C. but permits local money to be used. Pro-lifers, however, point out such language is meaningless because federal and local funds are combined for the district. As a result, the D.C. government can specify as local the money used to underwrite abortions.
The setback for pro-life advocates, and others who oppose taxpayer funding of abortion, came in a conglomeration of appropriations bills for multiple federal agencies. The legislation, H.R. 3288, which was agreed upon by a conference committee of representatives and senators, is for agencies that include the Departments of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Commerce, Justice, Labor, Health and Human Services, and State.
Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land urged leaders in the Senate and House of Representatives to oppose the spending bill. In a Dec. 11 letter, Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, told the Senate leaders the bill "injects radical social policies opposed by most Southern Baptists and millions of other Americans."
"This is a clear violation of millions of Americans' deeply held beliefs," Land said. "The nation's capital already has one of the highest abortion rates in the country. Failure to include this amendment would certainly increase those numbers."
Various studies have shown restrictions on government funding of abortion produce a decline in the number of abortions. In June, the Guttmacher Institute, which is identified with the abortion rights movement, reported its review of literature on the subject showed about 25 percent of the women who would have had Medicaid-funded abortions chose instead to give birth when they were barred from using public money.
The Senate voted 57-35 for the spending bill in a Dec. 13 roll call. The House approved the same measure with a 221-202 vote Dec. 10.
Among the conference report's other "appalling" provisions, Land said in his letter, are:
-- An increase of $10 million to a total of more than $317 million for the federal government's Title X family planning program, "much of which is directed to Planned Parenthood," the country's No. 1 abortion provider.
-- An additional $5 million in funds for the United Nations Population Fund, increasing the amount to $55 million for an agency that was barred from receiving money during the final seven years of President George W. Bush's administration because of its support for China's coercive population control policy.
-- A boost of $103 million for international family planning, funds that are no longer barred from use by organizations that perform or promote abortions after President Obama revoked the Mexico City Policy.
-- The establishment of a $110 million initiative "expected to advance condom promotion education," as well as the elimination of funds for sexual abstinence training.
-- The repeal of a prohibition on funds for domestic partnerships in D.C.
-- The reversal of a ban on money for a campaign to legalize marijuana in the district.
Compiled by Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.
Copyright (c) 2009 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net