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Abortion ban urged for Indian health bill

WASHINGTON (BP)–Southern Baptist pro-life leader Richard Land is calling for passage of a measure to codify a ban on federal funding for abortion as part of an Indian health care bill.

The president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission expressed his support for a proposal sponsored by Rep. Joseph Pitts, R.-Pa., whose amendment to the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, H.R. 1328, would establish a long-term ban that has been missing from the legislation. The Senate approved such an amendment with a 52-42 vote in February.

Though there has been a longstanding rule not to use Indian Health Service funds for abortion, Land told Pitts in an April 1 letter the ERLC fears “that without your amendment to permanently adopt this policy, a future administration could easily open up taxpayer dollars to subsidize abortions through IHS.”

The amendment’s language allows exceptions in the ban for abortions to save the life of the mother or in cases of pregnancy by rape or incest.

The Senate-approved amendment is similar to the Hyde Amendment, first enacted in 1976. The Hyde Amendment, named after the late Rep. Henry Hyde of Illinois, prohibits federal funds for most abortions as part of the spending bill for the Department of Health and Human Services. Unlike the Senate-passed amendment for IHS, the Hyde language has to be approved each year as part of the appropriations bill.

After it approved the pro-life amendment, the Senate approved the Indian health care bill with an 83-10 vote. The overall legislation establishes health care services for Native Americans, their tribes, tribal organizations and Indian organizations in cities.
Compiled by Baptist Press Washington bureau chief Tom Strode.

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