WASHINGTON (BP)–Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land called on the House of Representatives Feb. 16 to pass a government funding bill for the remainder of the fiscal year that includes protections for the sanctity of human life.
Because the last Congress did not pass a budget for 2011, the House is working on a continuing resolution to fund federal agencies through September. Republicans are seeking to cut $100 billion from the budget in the resolution, and a final vote on its passage is expected Thursday.
Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, wrote to Speaker of the House John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor a day after the chamber’s Energy and Commerce Committee approved legislation prohibiting federal funding of abortion and abortion coverage in last year’s health-care reform law.
The House’s new Republican leadership has included several pro-life provisions in the continuing resolution, and some amendments favored by pro-life advocates will be considered before final action.
In his letter, Land said the ERLC urges House members “to not only adhere to proposed deep fiscal cuts, but also to support amendments protecting the sanctity of human life and the right to conscience and to reject any and all amendments that would undercut such protections.”
Land’s letter urges House support for the following amendments to the continuing resolution:
— A ban on all funds for Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its affiliates.
— A ban on eliminating or weakening conscience protections for health-care providers.
— Elimination of $440 million in funds for international population control.
Regarding the amendment on Planned Parenthood, Land said, “We do not believe the government should be in the business of supporting the nation’s leading abortion provider with taxpayer dollars, no matter how Planned Parenthood allocates the money.”
Planned Parenthood received $363.2 million in government grants and contracts in 2008-09 and performed more than 324,000 abortions in 2008. Those are the most recent years for which figures are available.
Pro-life measures already in the continuing resolution and possible targets for amendments for their removal include:
— Reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy, which would bar federal money for organizations that perform or promote abortions overseas.
— Restoration of the prohibition on funds for the United Nations Population Fund, which has been found to support China’s coercive population control program.
— Re-establishment of the ban on the use of federal and congressionally approved local funds for elective abortions in the District of Columbia.
On Feb. 15, the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted 33-19 for the Protect Life Act, H.R. 358. Two Democrats — Reps. Mike Ross of Arkansas and Jim Matheson of Utah — joined all the GOP members on the panel in support of the bill. The measure would amend the health care law, which was enacted in March, not only to prohibit federal funds from being used for any portion of the costs of a health insurance plan that covers abortion but also to protect the pro-life conscience rights of health-care workers and institutions.
Compiled by Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.