Friday, 27 May 2011

House Bans Fed Funding of Abortion Training

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On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to ban the use of federal money for the purpose of training doctors in abortion procedures. Authored by Representative Virginia Foxx (left) (R-N.C.), the measure is one of the latest Republican efforts targeting abortions.

National Right to Life reports:

The amendment pertains to one of the many new programs created by the sweeping health care restructuring law enacted in 2010 — the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (PPACA), often referred to as “ObamaCare.” The program provided guaranteed funding — $230 million over the first five years — for grants to “teaching health centers” (THCs) for graduate-level training in certain “primary care” fields of medicine, including obstetrics and gynecology. The new program was targeted to “community-based” health centers, including federally funded community health centers and family planning clinics.

The bill that was brought to the House floor removes “mandatory” funding from the new medical education program. As a result, the funding level is set during the regular annual appropriations process. It is to that bill that Representative Foxx offered her amendment.

The Blaze writes:

The proposal was presented as an amendment to the latest of several GOP bills to restrict funding for the health care act that was enacted last year. This bill gives Congress control over spending for a program to encourage health centers to provide training to medical residents. The amendment applies to funding in that grant program.

Representative Foxx explained that she wanted to make it “crystal clear that taxpayer money is not being used to train healthcare providers to perform abortion procedures.”

The proposal passed by a vote of 234-182, despite fierce Democratic opposition that the ban could prevent doctors from receiving training that could potentially save a woman’s life during emergencies.

Representative Diana DeGette, (D-Colo.) articulated such concerns. “This amendment could jeopardize both education and women’s healthcare by obliterating funding for a necessary full range of medical training by healthcare professionals.”

Similarly, Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, asserted that Foxx’s amendment is unprecedented and inexplicably restricts medical training. “Regardless of how one feels about legal abortion, reasonable lawmakers can agree that doctors should be as well-trained as possible to deal with any medical situation that may arise,” Keenan opined.

Thirteen Democrats joined Republicans in voting in favor of the bill, while ten Republicans joined with Democrats in voting against it.

In addition to restricting medical training, the legislation states that no funds can be used to perform abortions under the grant program, and adds that teaching health centers will not be eligible for funds if they discriminate against providers that deny abortion services.

Foxx remarks, “If organizations want to provide elective abortions or train abortion doctors they need to find someone other than taxpayers to write the checks.”

According to legislative director of the pro-life group National Right to Life, Douglas Johnson, the anti-discrimination provision is particularly important because “the Obama administration has severely weakened enforcement of existing laws.”

More than likely the Foxx amendment will not make it through the U.S. Senate, however.

But Johnson asserts that the legislation is still necessary. “It usually takes more than one Congress to accomplish worthwhile legislative goals. It is necessary often to build up momentum over several Congresses.”

The measure is just one of many that the new Republican majority has pushed since it took power in January. The Blaze notes that the Republicans have supported bills that ban the federal funding of abortions, make it easier for hospitals to refuse abortions, and make it more expensive for small businesses to choose insurance plans under the healthcare law that provides abortion coverage.

Recently, the U.S. House unsuccessfully tried to pass legislation that would have cut off all federal funding to Planned Parenthood.

Foxx contends that her amendment supports the American taxpayers who advocated cutting off federal funding of abortions. She asserts that the amendment “seeks to ensure that their hard-earned money does not go to organizations that promote abortion or discriminate against pro-life healthcare providers.”

Foxx is also unafraid to admit, “My amendment is designed to protect life, and the livelihoods of those who defend it.”

Naturally, the amendment has been opposed by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA). In a memo circulated by PPFA Legislative Director Oliver Kim, the organization called the amendment “a clear attempt to undermine women’s ability to be served by physicians who are adequately trained to provide the full range of reproductive health services they may need.”

Commenting on the opposition to the Foxx Amendment, Johnson declared:

The reaction of Planned Parenthood and NARAL to the Foxx Amendment makes it clear that they want the federal taxpayer to fund training of the next generation of abortionists. In fact, pro-abortion activists are also trying to make it impossible to become certified in and to practice in some medical fields without participating in providing abortions. Stronger federal anti-discrimination laws are needed to counter these efforts, especially since the Obama Administration has severely weakened enforcement of the existing protective laws.

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