The First Session of the 115th Congress convened January 3, 2017. Bills are not carried over from 2016.
Action may occur on a number of pro-life priorities such as the policy of the Conscience Protection Act, No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion, Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act, Born Alive Abortion Survivors Act, and an effort to redirect funding from abortion clinics like Planned Parenthood.
Information related to federal legislation—text of bills, testimony from hearings, committee reports, floor debates in the Congressional Record, roll call of floor votes, and the like—is available at: congress.gov.
Federal law and policy have long rejected assisted suicide as healthcare. A prohibition exists on Federal funds being used for assisted suicide. The Supreme Court has twice ruled that there is no right to assisted suicide in the Constitution.
H. Con. Res. 80 expresses the sense of the Congress that “assisted suicide puts everyone, including the most vulnerable, at risk of deadly harm and undermines the integrity of the health care system.”
The resolution also states that Congress finds that “the Federal Government should ensure that every person facing the end of their life has access to the best quality…medical care…and that the Federal Government should not adopt or endorse policies or practices that support, encourage or facilitate suicide or assisted suicide, whether by physicians or others.”
Cardinal Dolan, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop Dewane, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, have expressed their strong support for H. Con. Res. 80, a resolution expressing the sense of Congress that assisted suicide is a “deadly, discriminatory and non-compassionate practice.” For the full text of the letter see: usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/assisted-suicide/upload/Cdl-Dolan-Ltr-for-Sense-of-Congress-against-Assisted-Suicide_09-27-17.pdf,
For an HLA Action Alert urging Congress to support H. Con. Res. 80, see: humanlifeaction.org/action-alert/assisted-suicide-not-healthcare.
On September 26, 2017, Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) and a bi-partisan group of Representatives introduced H. Con. Res. 80. The resolution has nine cosponsors and was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
There is substantial medical evidence that an unborn child can experience pain at least by 20 weeks after fertilization. With limited exceptions, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 36) would make it unlawful to perform or attempt to perform an abortion if the probable post-fertilization age of the unborn child is 20 weeks or greater.
On January 3, 2017, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) introduced The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 36). The measure had 182 cosponsors and was referred to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice.
On October 5, 2017, Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced a companion bill in the Senate. S. 1922 has 45 cosponsors as was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.
Cardinal Dolan, Chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, called on Congress to support this common-sense abortion policy reform. In a September 29 letter to the House he pointed out to law makers that “[a]lthough we want, and will continue to work for, protections in law for human life from the beginning of its existence, for several reasons we think the proposed ban on abortion at 20 weeks after fertilization is a place to begin uniting Americans who see themselves as ‘“pro-life’” and as ‘“pro-choice’”.” The Cardinal also pointed out that late-term abortion, in addition to being repulsive to “all decent and humane people” poses “…serious dangers to women – as evidenced by a disturbing number of news stories about the death or serious health complications of women undergoing such procedures.”
For the full text of Cardinal Dolan’s letter to Congress see: humanlifeaction.org/sites/default/files/CdlDolan-HR36-House-Ltr-09-29-2017_0.pdf.
The Conscience Protection Act of 2017 will address the deficiencies that block effective enforcement of existing laws, most notably by establishing a private right of action allowing victims of discrimination to defend their own rights in court.
While existing federal laws already protect conscientious objection to abortion in theory, this protection has not proved effective in practice. These laws can only be enforced by complaint to the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which— despite repeated violations—has refused to fully enforce these laws.
For example, on June 21, 2016, the HHS Office for Civil Rights declared that the State of California may continue forcing all health plans under its jurisdiction to cover elective abortions—in violation of the plain text of the Weldon amendment, which provides that governmental bodies receiving federal funding may not discriminate against a health care entity that “does not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.” Violations of the Weldon amendment are also taking place in other states, such as New York and Washington.
Even HHS itself has discriminated against those who cannot in conscience facilitate abortions, as when in 2011 it implemented a new “strong preference” for grantees willing to refer human trafficking victims solely to health care providers who favor abortion. While the Weldon amendment to the annual Labor/HHS appropriation bill has forbidden such governmental discrimination since 2004, state officials have violated that amendment with impunity and claimed that any effort to enforce it would be subject to legal challenge.
For an HLA Action Alert urging Congress to support the Conscience Protection Act of 2017 and work to ensure it is enacted into law as part of Fiscal Year 2018 funding legislation see: humanlifeaction.org/action-alert/urge-congress-enact-conscience-protection-act-2017 .
On January 24, 2017, Reps. Diane Black (R-TN) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) introduced the Conscience Protection Act of 2017 (H.R. 644). The measure has 105 other cosponsors and was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
H.R. 644 is identical to the Conscience Protection Act of 2016, which passed the House in the previous Congress on a bi-partisan vote.
Committee: On July 19, 2017, the House Appropriations Committee approved the Fiscal Year 2018 Labor/HHS bill (H.R. 3358) which included the text of the Conscience Protection Act.
On February 3, 2017, Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) introduced the Conscience Protection Act of 2017 (S. 301) in the Senate. The measure has 24 cosponsors and was referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
On May 4, 2017, President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order on Free Speech and Religious Liberty. For more details, see “Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty: Executive Order” elsewhere in this Legislative Report.
• In letters to the House and Senate, Cardinal Dolan, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Archbishop William Lori, Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty urged support for H.R. 644 and S. 301 saying:
The need for clarification of federal law cannot be doubted. While existing federal laws already protect conscientious objection to abortion in theory, this protection has not proved effective in practice.
… The Conscience Protection Act will address the deficiencies that block effective enforcement of existing laws, most notably by establishing a private right of action allowing victims of discrimination to defend their own rights in court.
… When government instead mandates involvement in abortion as a condition for being allowed to provide life-affirming health care services, it not only undermines the widely acknowledged civil rights of health care providers but also limits access to good health care for American women and men.
Also see USCCB Fact Sheets:
• "Cases Showing the Need for the Conscience Protection Act" at: humanlifeaction.org/sites/default/files/Cases-Showing-the-Need-for-the-Conscience-Protection-Act.pdf
• “The Need for the Conscience Protection Act of 2017 - Questions and Answers,” at: humanlifeaction.org/sites/default/files/The-Need-for-the-Conscience-Protection-Act.pdf.
• “Conscience Protection on Abortion: No Threat to Life,” at: humanlifeaction.org/sites/default/files/Federal-Conscience-Protection-on-Abortion-No-Threat-to-Life_2.pdf.
On October 6, 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service issued two Interim Final Regulations (IFRs) providing a broad religious and moral exemption from the mandate requiring health plans to cover contraceptives (including those that are abortifacient) and sterilization procedures. The rules are effective immediately.
In a statement hailing the HHS action, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the USCCB, and Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Chairman of the USCCB's Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, called the new regulations “a return to common sense, long-standing federal practice, and peaceful coexistence between church and state. It corrects an anomalous failure by federal regulators that should never have occurred and should never be repeated.”
"These regulations are good news for the Little Sisters of the Poor and others who are challenging the HHS mandate in court. We urge the government to take the next logical step and promptly resolve the litigation that the Supreme Court has urged the parties to settle.”
For the text of the full USCCB Statement see: http://www.usccb.org/news/2017/17-180z.cfm.
The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R.7, S. 184) would place into permanent law a consistent policy that the federal government should not use tax dollars to support or promote elective abortion. Since 1976 this policy has enjoyed bi-partisan support and has been embodied in the Hyde Amendment and other policies governing funding. However, there are inconsistencies in its application and most of these policies including the Hyde Amendment must be renewed every year. The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act will correct these inadequacies. What is more, there is a long-standing consensus in our nation – even among those who identify themselves as “pro-choice”– that taxpayers should not be coerced into paying for abortions. (See Marist poll results released July 2016.)
On January 13, 2017, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) introduced the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 7). The measure had 100 other cosponsors and was referred to three House Committees: Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, and the Judiciary.
On January 23, 2017, Cardinal Dolan, Chairman of the USCCB Committee for Pro-Life Activities, released a statement urging lawmakers to support this legislation. He reminded legislators ” that the American people oppose taxpayer-funding of abortion and want that opposition reflected in our law once and for all.” For the full statement see: www.humanlifeaction.org/sites/default/files/Dolan_Ltr_012317.pdf.
On January 24, 2017, H.R. 7 was brought to the Floor.
A motion to recommit the bill back to committee was defeated by a vote of 187-yes, 235-no, 10-not voting. (Roll Call 64). “No” was a pro-life vote.
The House then passed H.R. 7, 238 -yes, 183-no, 11-not voting (Roll Call 65). “Yes” was a pro-life vote.
In a January 25, 2017 statement welcoming the passage of H.R. 7, Deidre McQuade, primary spokeswoman on abortion for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) said:
"By passing this legislation, the House has taken a decisive step toward respect for unborn human life, reflecting the will of the American people."
"The USCCB hopes that the U.S. Senate will take up this vital legislation soon."
For the full statement see: www.usccb.org/news/2017/17-022.cfm
On January 30, 2017, the House sent H.R. 7 to the Senate, where, after being read twice, was referred to the Committee on Finance.
On January 20, 2017, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) introduced the identical bill in the Senate, S. 184. The measure was referred to the Finance Committee and has 39 cosponsors.
Efforts to correct the abortion funding and conscience protection defects in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and related rules continue in 2017. Early in the year the House again passed the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 7). The latest version of conscience legislation, the Conscience Protection Act of 2017, was introduced in both House and Senate (H.R. 644, S. 301).
The House also began consideration of health care reform legislation to revamp the ACA and set health care reform on a new course. A new bill includes provisions restricting or prohibiting abortion funding.
On March 8, 2017, the Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Committee on Ways and Means marked up their sections of the new bill. On March 16, 2017, the Committee on the Budget incorporated the work of the other two House committees into one bill. All amendments in committee to strike pro-life provisions in the proposed text were rejected.
On March 20, 2017, the House Committee on the Budget reported as a reconciliation bill the American Health Care Act of 2017 (AHCA) (H.R. 1628), with House Report 115-52. The bill was placed on the House calendar.
On review, the U.S. bishops found some provisions of the AHCA commendable, for example those restricting or prohibiting abortion funding: “Laudably, the AHCA proposes to include critical life protections for the most vulnerable among us. By restricting funding which flows to providers that promote abortion and prohibiting federal funding for abortion or the purchase of plans that provide abortion—including with current and future tax credits—the legislation honors a key moral requirement for our nation’s health care policy.”
Other provisions present “grave challenges that must be addressed before passage.” The latter included the lack of conscience protection against health care mandates: “Absent in the AHCA are any changes to afford conscience protection against mandates to provide coverage or services, such as the regulatory interpretation of “preventive services” requiring contraception and sterilization coverage in almost all private health plans nationwide, which has been the subject of large-scale litigation especially involving religious entities like the Little Sisters of the Poor.”
The bishops expressed concern that efforts to improve deficiencies in the ACA should not create other problems, “particularly for those who struggle on the margins of our society.” In this respect the bishops state that the AHCA “must be modified” to correct specific serious flaws in the Medicaid-related provisions.
On March 24, 2017, the House approved a rule for consideration of H.R. 1628, but later in the day further consideration of H.R. 1628 was postponed.
The AHCA was further modified. First on April 6, 2017 and then a second time on May 3, 2017, the Rules Committee reported rules to the House for consideration of the AHCA with modifications. On May 4, 2017, the House passed the modified AHCA, 217-yes, 213-no (Roll Call 256).
In a May 4, 2017 statement, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, FL, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, recognized that the AHCA “does offer critical life protections, and our health care system desperately needs these safeguards.” Despite efforts to improve the bill, Bishop Dewane stated that the AHCA “still contains major defects” and the Senate “must act decisively to remove the harmful proposals from the bill that will affect low-income people—including immigrants—as well as add vital conscience protections, or begin reform efforts anew.” See: www.usccb.org/news/2017/17-078.cfm.
The ACHA now moves to the Senate.
On May 4, 2017, President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order on Free Speech and Religious Liberty. For more details, see “Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty: Executive Order” elsewhere in this Legislative Report.
In 2010, after months of debate starting in 2009, Congress passed health care reform legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590)—generally called the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—and a follow-up bill, the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act (H.R. 4872). Thereafter President Obama signed these measures into law on, respectively, March 23 (PL 111-148) and March 30 (PL 111-152).
The late Cardinal Francis George, then President of the U. S. Bishops’ conference, opposed the ACA as passed. Along with other problems, the law “would expand the role of the federal government in funding and facilitating abortion and plans that cover abortion” and failed to include “essential conscience protections (both within and beyond the abortion context).”
General language in the ACA became the basis on which the Obama Administration in 2011 issued a rule—commonly called the HHS [Department of Health and Human Services] Mandate—requiring coverage in most private health plans of sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs and devices, as well as contraception. The Administration rule also required “counseling and education” to promote the coverage among all “women of reproductive capacity,” thereby including even minor girls.
In succeeding years, legislative efforts to correct the abortion funding and conscience protection defects in the ACA and related rules have not been successful. Court challenges have achieved some good results. In 2014 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in its Hobby Lobby decision that the HHS mandate did not apply to closely held for-profit corporations. In 2016 the Court vacated lower court decisions against the Little Sisters of the Poor and other non-profit entities, urging accommodation for their religious beliefs.
For a full history, see HLA Legislative Reports from 2010 to 2016.
On May 4, 2017, President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order “Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty.”
The Executive Order expressed the intent “to vigorously enforce Federal law’s robust protections for religious freedom” (Section 1).
With respect to religious and political speech, all executive departments and agencies “shall, to the greatest extent practicable and to the extent permitted by law, respect and protect the freedom of persons and organizations to engage in religious and political speech” (Sec. 2).
With respect to conscience protection and the preventive-care mandate, the Secretaries of the Treasury, of Labor, and of Health and Human Services “shall consider issuing amended regulations, consistent with applicable law, to address conscience-based objections to the prevention-care mandate promulgated under section 300gg-13(a)(4) of title 42, United States Code” (Sec. 3).
The full text of the Executive Order can be found at: www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/05/04/presidential-executive-order-promoting-free-speech-and-religious-liberty.
Responding to the Executive Order, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, stated: “We welcome a decision to provide a broad religious exemption to the HHS mandate, but will have to review the details of any regulatory proposals.” The Executive Order “begins the process of alleviating the serious burden of the HHS mandate.”
Cardinal DiNardo noted the broad range of ways that people of faith “have experienced pressing restrictions on religious freedom from both the federal and state governments that receive federal funding.” The Cardinal asserted, “We will continue to advocate for permanent relief from Congress on issues of critical importance to people of faith.”
For Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement, see: www.usccb.org/news/2017/17-076.cfm.
In 1984, at an international population conference in Mexico City, the Reagan Administration announced that the United States would no longer contribute to nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) "which perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations." This policy became known as the Mexico City Policy.
The policy was upheld in court as constitutional. It remained in place until overturned by President Clinton on January 22, 1993.
President Bush reinstated the policy in 2001, and it was subsequently overturned by President Obama.
On January 23, 2017, President Trump reinstated the Mexico City Policy.
On December 14, 2016, at the end of the Obama Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a regulation that would block states under the federal family planning program (Title X) from denying funding to providers such as Planned Parenthood. See 81 Federal Register 91852 (December 19, 2016). The rule went into effect on January 18, 2017.
Under the Congressional Review Act, Congress has 60 days to overrule a new regulation through a joint resolution of disapproval. A House resolution to disapprove (H.J. Res. 43) was introduced by Rep. Diane Black (R-TN), with 147 cosponsors. The companion Senate resolution (S.J. Res. 13) was introduced by Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), with 19 cosponsors.
On February 16, 2017, H.J. Res. 43 was approved by the House, 230-yes, 188-no (Roll Call 99). The resolution then was sent to the Senate for its concurrence.
On March 30, 2017, the Senate agreed to proceed to the consideration of H.J. Res. 43 and thereafter passed the resolution, 50-yes, 50-no, with the Vice President Mike Pence casting the deciding affirmative vote (Roll Call 101).
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, chair of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, praised the House and Senate for disapproving the Obama Administration policy. “The clear purpose of this Title X rule change was to benefit abortion providers like Planned Parenthood.” The Cardinal added: “So Congress has done well to reverse this very bad public policy, and to restore the ability of states to stop one stream of our tax dollars going to Planned Parenthood and redirect it to community health centers that provide comprehensive primary and preventive health care.”
On April 13, 2017, President Trump signed H.J. Res 43 into law.
The Title X rule change was bad policy. As Cardinal Dolan stated in his February 14 letter to Congress, “It is deeply troubling to many Americans that Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion network…receives more than half a billion taxpayer dollars per year. This concern has rightly grown with revelations about Planned Parenthood’s willingness to traffic in fetal tissue from abortions, and to alter abortion methods not for any reason related to women’s health but to obtain more ‘intact’ organs. Additionally, a recent revelation that the vast majority of Planned Parenthood facilities do not provide prenatal services provides additional evidence of its bias toward providing and promoting abortion.”
For the Cardinal’s full statement see: humanlifeaction.org/sites/default/files/Title%20X%20letter%20to%20House_0.pdf
Also see the Fact Sheet, “Planned Parenthood: Setting the Record Straight,” at: humanlifeaction.org/sites/default/files/PPFA-fact-sheet-2015_0.pdf
On April 3, 2017, the U.S. State Department informed Congress that, in accord with the Kemp-Kasten Amendment, the Trump Administration has made the determination that the United Nations Population Fund (referred to as the UNFPA) supports or participates in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization and thus would be denied the use of funds appropriated for fiscal year 2017.
In an accompanying memorandum the Administration documents that the Chinese Government is engaged in a coercive population control program, employing various methods, including coercive abortion and involuntary sterilization. The China policy was first enacted in 1979 (“one-child policy”) and revised late in 2015 with an effective date of January 1, 2016 (“two-child policy”). The UNFPA began its program in China in 1978 and has supported the government’s population control policies to this day. In a 1991 news story, Nafis Sadik, the executive director of the UNFPA, held up the China program as a model for others. The story concluded: “Now the country [China] could offer its experiences and special experts to help other countries” (XINHUA [China’s official news agency], April 11, 1991).
The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (Public Law 114-113), carried over into early 2017, contains the Kemp-Kasten Amendment in Division K, Title III, “Global Health Programs,” third proviso. The UNFPA was slated to receive $32.5 million (Sec. 7082(a)). If these funds are not made available to the UNFPA “because of the operation of any provision of law,” the funds are to be transferred to “Global Health Programs” (Sec. 7082(b)). The State Department communication to Congress notes this transfer of funds.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, chair of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, welcomed the State Department’s announcement, stating: “Chinese families have endured unspeakable abuses, including onerous fines, mandatory pregnancy exams, coerced sterilizations and forced abortions.” Cardinal Dolan added,” We are so grateful to the Trump Administration for taking this important action to end U.S. support for the UNFPA as long as it remains committed to China’s coercive abortion and sterilization programs.” See: www.usccb.org/news/2017/17-062.cfm.
Early on overwhelming evidence began to emerge that the China population control program was employing coercive abortion and compulsory sterilization. Over the years that evidence has only grown. From the beginning the UNFPA has been a strong supporter of the program.
In response to this clear violation of human rights, Congress in 1985 passed the Kemp-Kasten Amendment, a provision in annual appropriations law that denies funding “to any organization or program which, as determined by the President of the United States, supports or participates in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.” That amendment has continued ever since to be a part of annual appropriations law.
Based on the law, the Reagan Administration immediately denied funding to the UNFPA. That determination was upheld August 12, 1986 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The Reagan and George H. W. Bush Administrations made these annual determinations, as did the George W. Bush Administration from FY 2002 forward. Except for FY 1999 when Congress blocked all funding for the UNFPA, the Clinton and later the Obama Administrations reversed course and allowed the UNFPA to receive U.S. funds, forcing U. S. taxpayers to lend support to this human rights abuse.
The Congressional-Executive Committee on China (CECC), co-chaired by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), has held many hearings on China’s coercive population policy. The CECC’s Annual Reports includes a chapter on the family planning policy“Population Control” in China. This resource provides excellent information on the implementation and evolution of the China policy. See: www.cecc.gov/publications/annual-reports.
- A March 8, 2017 speech by Rep. Chris Smith, “Continued Coercion: China’s Two-Child Policy Threatens Human Rights and Prosperity” at: chrissmith.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=400209.
- The annual State Department Country Reports. In the latest report issued March 3, 2017, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016, see the section on China at: www.state.gov/documents/organization/265540.pdf. Specific information in Section 6, Reproductive Rights.
- The various annual HLA Legislative Reports for valuable information on hearings, related appropriations law, challenges to relevant policies, and the like. For recent developments, especially see the Legislative Reports for 2011, 2012, and 2015 at: www.humanlifeaction.org/legislative-reports.
On November 15, 2016, the Death with Dignity Act of 2016 was approved by the Council of the District of Columbia, 11-yes, 2-no, and on December 19, 2016, the measure was signed by Mayor Muriel Bowser (Act 21-577). The Act makes it lawful for a person suffering from a “terminal disease” to request “that my attending physician prescribe medication that will end my life in a humane and peaceful manner” (Sec. 3(c)).
In his blog Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, D.C., stated that laws like that passed by the D.C. government “are not about allowing people to die, but actively ending life, that is, a license to kill.” He added, “What we are witnessing here is an effort to convince people to consider the sick and dying to be a burden to their families and society, and to regard their lives as not worth living.” For more information on the D.C. law, see: nodcsuicide.org.
The U.S. Congress had a legally defined 30-day period to disapprove the D.C. law. Resolutions for this purpose were introduced in House and Senate (H.J. Res. 27, S.J. Res. 4). On February 13, 2017, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform voted 22-yes, 14-no to report H.J. Res. 27 to the House floor. No further actions were taken. The 30-day period having passed, the D.C. measure became effective February 18, 2017, with full implementation of its provisions scheduled for October 1, 2017.
Five other states have passed laws approving physician assisted suicide: Oregon (1994), Washington (2008), Vermont (2013), California (2015), and Colorado (2016). For a critique of the laws with the longest track records, Oregon and Washington, see the Fact Sheet: “Assisted Suicide Laws in Oregon and Washington: What Safeguards?” at: usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/assisted-suicide/to-live-each-day/upload/Oregon-and-Washing-euthanasia-20131.pdf.
On July 13, 2017, the House Appropriations Committee approved the Fiscal Year 2018 Financial Services bill (H.R. 3280). During markup Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) offered an amendment to repeal D.C.’s assisted suicide law. The Harris amendment was approved 28-24.
The year 2017 marks the 44th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, the U.S. Supreme Court decisions that made a right to abortion legal through all nine months of pregnancy. Since these decisions were issued January 22, 1973, more than 58 million unborn children have died.
Urge your Representative and Senators to work to end Roe and Doe as the law of the land. Contact them by sending an e-mail or a tweet through the Human Life Action Center here.
For more about Roe and Doe and related U. S. Supreme Court decisions on abortion, please see the website EndRoe.org. There you can find the stories of Norma McCorvey and Sandra Cano, on whose behalf the cases were brought, and their calls to overturn the decisions. Other resources include the texts of the Court’s decisions; summaries of those decisions; a review of dissents; questions and answers; an introductory overview essay; selected readings; and an annotated bibliography.
On July 13, 2017, the House Appropriations Committee approved the Fiscal Year 2018 Financial Services bill (H.R. 3280). Various proposals related to pro-life concerns were addressed:
Repeal of D.C. Assisted Suicide Law: Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) offered an amendment to repeal D.C.’s assisted suicide law which is scheduled to be fully implemented beginning October 1, 2017. The amendment was approved 28-24.
D.C. Abortion Funding: Under the longstanding D.C. Hyde amendment, taxpayer funding of abortions is prohibited in the District of Columbia. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) offered an amendment to remove this prohibition. The Lee amendment was defeated 23-29.
Abortion Coverage Prohibition in Multi-State Plans: The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) administers healthcare plans under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), as well as Multi-State healthcare plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Existing policy prohibits the funding of abortion in the FEHB plans. Language in the FY 2018 bill would extend the prohibitions to the Multi-State plans. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-CA) offered an amendment to the strike the new Multi-State plan prohibition. The Lowey amendment failed 21-31.
On July 18, 2017, the House Appropriations Committee approved the Fiscal Year 2018 Homeland Security bill (H.R. 3355).
Immigration and Customs Enforcement Abortion Policy: Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) offered an amendment adding Hyde Amendment language to the bill which would block funding for elective abortion for detainees of Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE). In addition, the amendment would provide conscience protection for ICE employees who refuse to facilitate an abortion. The Aderholt amendment was approved 29-21.
Charlie Gard – Permanent Residency: Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) offered an amendment making the infant Charlie Gard of the United Kingdom a permanent resident of the United States. The Herrera Beutler amendment was approved on a voice vote.
On July 19, 2017, the House Appropriations Committee approved the Fiscal Year 2018 Labor/HHS bill (H.R. 3358). The text includes longstanding pro-life policy amendments: Hyde, Weldon, and Dickey-Wicker.
During committee markup, the following were also addressed:
The Conscience Protection Act: The bill contains the language of the Conscience Protection Act (CPA) that was previously passed by the House in 2016. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) offered an amendment to remove the CPA from the bill. The Wasserman Schultz amendment failed 21-29.
Prohibition on Planned Parenthood Funding: The text of the bill includes a provision (Sec. 529) that would prohibit Planned Parenthood from receiving funding under the scope of the bill. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Rep. Katherine Clarke (D-CA) each offered separate amendments to strike the prohibition. The Lee amendment failed on a voice vote and the Clarke amendment was defeated 23-27.
Title X Funding: The bill would bar funding to Planned Parenthood through the Title X family planning program. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) offered an amendment to restore the Title X funding. The Lowey amendment failed 23-27.
HHS Contraceptive Mandate: An amendment to block funding for the implementation of any new rule that would provide relief from the HHS mandate was offered by Rep. Lowey. The amendment failed 22-29.
Fetal Tissue Research: Section 528 of the bill contains a ban on funding of research using fetal tissue if the tissue was obtained through an induced abortion. This provision was included upon the recommendation of the House Select Panel on Infant Lives which found evidence of unethical practices such as trafficking in fetal parts by abortion providers and fetal tissue procurement companies.
Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) offered an amendment to remove the funding ban. The Pocan amendment failed in a voice vote.