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Obama budget backs D.C. abortion funds

WASHINGTON (BP)–President Obama has called for the repeal of a ban on government-funded abortions in the District of Columbia.

The recommendation in Obama’s first proposed budget contradicts his stated desire to reduce abortions or the need for abortions, a leading pro-life organization said upon the May 7 release of details of the president’s spending plan for 2009-10.

Meanwhile, abortion rights organizations expressed disappointment in the president’s failure to call for the reversal of other federal bans on abortion funding.

Obama’s budget recommends Congress eliminate the Dornan Amendment, a provision in effect for most of the last 20 years that prohibits both federal and local funds from being used for abortions in the District of Columbia. The amendment allows exceptions for abortions in cases of a threat to the life of the mother or a pregnancy because of rape or incest.

The president’s strategy on abortion is a “political scam,” a spokesman for the National Right to Life Committee said.

“Some wide-eyed journalists and various political shills for the Obama administration continue to write fairy tales about how President Obama wants to pursue policies that would reduce abortions,” National Right to Life Committee Legislative Director Douglas Johnson said in a written statement. “In reality, President Obama is pursuing a step-by-step strategy to expand access to abortion….

“If Congress goes along with the Obama proposal, the predictable result will be tax funding of several thousand elective abortions annually, including roughly 1,000 abortions annually that would not otherwise occur,” he said. “The abortion industry’s own studies suggest that many thousands of residents of the nation’s capital are alive today because of the abortion funding ban that President Obama now proposes to repeal.”

Congress first approved the Dornan Amendment in 1988 as part of a spending bill. The provision was removed in 1993 but restored in 1996. It has been in effect since. The measure is named after its original author, Rep. Robert Dornan, R.-Calif., who served a total of 18 years in the House of Representatives.

The Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Center for Reproductive Rights voiced dissatisfaction in Obama’s refusal to call for elimination of the Hyde Amendment and other prohibitions on public funding of abortion. The Hyde Amendment, which has been part of the federal budget since 1976, prevents Medicaid from funding abortions, except when the mother’s life is endangered or in cases of rape or incest.

“Placing onerous restrictions on women is not effective public policy,” Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said in a written release. “We look forward to working with the president and Congress to remove these restrictions.”

Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a written statement, “Abortion is the only medically necessary health service excluded from Medicaid coverage. Failure to provide that service — a service that only women need -– is discrimination.

“President Obama made clear during the election that he opposes the Hyde Amendment,” she said.

National Right to Life has warned, however, that Democratic leaders of Congress are working on a health-care reform bill, with Obama’s support, that would eliminate bans on federal funding of abortion. The measure would “mainstream” abortion by making it available nationwide “by taxes and by government-mandated private insurance premiums,” Johnson said in a written release.

The next part of the president’s “massive policy scam” would be “an attempt to smuggle vast expansions of abortion into law through health-care reform legislation,” he said.
Compiled by Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.

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