The Senate’s Missing Pro-Life Policy Riders

August 20th, 2018

The Senate is in town for its first full work-week in August to address spending bills for Labor, Health and Human Services (Labor-HHS) and the Department of Defense (DOD), the two largest executive agencies.

Appropriations bills usually provide a forum for an open amendment process, where members have many opportunities to offer their ideas and have the Senate vote on them. This appropriations cycle has been much more restricted, with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell telling his members that many of the policies that have been considered in previous years now constitute “poison pills.”

This is particularly troubling when it comes to the Labor-HHS spending bill, as this is a critical opportunity to consider strong pro-life legislation. While the House has done so, the Senate’s Labor-HHS bill is notably lacking the same protections. And both chambers’ Labor-HHS bills lack many of the Administration’s top priorities the Office of Management and Budget had requested such as eliminating wasteful programs.

Below is a list of pro-life policies that were considered in the House bill, but are absent from the Senate’s legislation.

Conscience Protection Act (sec. 534 of House bill)

Clarifies and permanently codifies the Weldon amendment, which blocks funding for federal, state and local agencies that discriminate against healthcare entities that decline to provide, refer for, pay for, or provide coverage of abortions. The House bill also adds a private right of action to protect pro-life healthcare workers in federally funded healthcare programs, so that someone facing discrimination for an objection to abortion can seek judicial relief.

No funding for Planned Parenthood (sec. 533 of House bill)

Prohibits federal funding for certain tax-exempt abortion businesses. In particular, this provision would block Planned Parenthood from receiving more than $23 million in taxpayer family planning grants under Title X.

Stop funding for research using aborted fetal tissue – (sec. 532  of House bill)

Bars funding for research involving human fetal tissue that is obtained from an induced abortion.

Faith Based Adoption Agency Conscience Protections – (Aderholt Amendment #1 adopted in committee)

Allows faith-based adoption agencies to operate in accordance with their religious tenets, free of government discrimination

Additionally, the following provisions were not included in either version of the bills as reported out of the appropriations committees, but are solid pro-life policies worthy of consideration by the Congress.

Embryonic Stem Cell Research Ban

Clarifies the Dickey-Wicker amendment to bar funding for embryonic stem cell research that involves creating, destructing or otherwise harming a human embryo. 

State Planned Parenthood Funding Opt Out

Amends the Title XIX Medicaid law to clarify that states have the right to block Medicaid funding for abortion businesses. This amendment would reflect Rep. Sean Duffy’s stand-alone bill, H.R. 656.

NIH Human-Animal Chimera Funding Ban

Bars the Food and Drug Administration’s current practice of funding research which attempts to create human-animal chimeras (hybrids).