November 30, 2010
A bill which could lead to abortions for female veterans could come up for debate on the House floor as early as TODAY.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) does not currently provide abortions and abortions are currently excluded from the VA health benefits package, because abortion is excluded from the scope of "general reproductive health care" that is authorized by P.L. 102-585. But that exclusion does not extend a prohibition to other authorities created by earlier or later legislation, so this bill (H.R. 5953) could lay the groundwork and legal precedent for the VA to provide abortions in the future, according to the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus. (RNC for Life believe this bill to be unnecessary as we are unaware of any appropriate medical treatment, other than abortion, currently being denied to female veterans.)
The first section of H.R. 5953 would establish a “Women Veterans Bill of Rights” which enumerates 24 “rights” to be “displayed prominently and conspicuously in each facility of the Department of Veterans Affairs and distributed widely to women veterans.” These “rights” could then be used as a basis to require funding for abortion and access to abortion at veterans facilities. Possible pro-life concerns with H.R. 5953 are as follows:
- A right to “coordinated, comprehensive, primary women’s health care” could provide a legal basis to require funding for abortion because this language would be in conflict with current policy. (Right #1)
- A right to a “primary care provider who can meet ALL her primary care needs, including gender-specific…” could be used to mandate access to abortionists at every VA health facility. (Right #1)
- A “right to innovation in care delivery” raises concerns about the provision of “telemed abortions” through which abortion pills are dispensed without a physician present. Instead the physician dispenses the abortion pills by entering a code over the internet. (Right #3)
- A “right to request and get treatments by clinicians with specific training and experience in women’s health issues” could be a used as grounds to demand access to an abortion provider and could create a funding conflict as well because it implies a right to have abortion paid for by the VA. (Right #4)
- “Gender equity” and “equal access” and “parity” in this context could also give rise to an abortion access and funding demands. In the past, pro-life groups have opposed the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) unless an abortion exclusion is added for this reason. The most recent example, New Mexico’s ERA was used as a legal basis for the courts to require state funded abortions. (Right #6 and 7)
LATE BREAKING UPDATE ON H.R. 5953: DUE TO THE OPPOSITION OF PRO-LIFE GROUPS, INCUDING RNC FOR LIFE, AN EXCEPTION SPECIFICALLY EXCLUDING ABORTION HAS BEEN PUT INTO THE BILL AND WITH THAT EXCEPTION, WE CAN WITHDRAW OUR OBJECTIONS TO IT.
“Mixed” Pro-Life Voting Congressman
May Head Important Committee
The U.S. House committee which serves as a gateway for virtually all legislation of interest to the pro-life community may soon be headed by a Republican congressman who has a “mixed” record of voting on pro-life issues. This is very concerning to many pro-life groups, including RNC for Life.
Most importantly for the pro-life cause, this powerful committee is the gateway for virtually every pro-life legislative protection. The front-runner for Chairman of Energy and Commerce Committee is Cong. Fred Upton (R-MI 6), who has a very mixed voting record on Life issues. He has voted to spend our tax dollars on embryonic stem cell research, research using tissue obtained from abortions and Planned Parenthood. He voted against amendments that would have prevented the FDA from approving the abortion pill RU-486, and he voted for an amendment that would not recognize unborn children as victims in crimes against pregnant women, thus undermining the Unborn Victims of Violence Act.
The pro-life movement would prefer a strong pro-life chairman of this committee, but if, due to seniority, the chairman of this committee is to be Upton, then the sub-committee chairs for Health Care and Oversight and Investigations MUST be pro-life, rather “maybe or maybe not pro-life” Republicans. Committee member Joe Pitts (R-PA 16) is a strong pro-life advocate and would be a superb chairman for the Health Care subcommittee. Pro-life Cong. Michael Burgess (R-TX 26) is the ranking member of the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee, and has all ready promised to hold hearing on Obamacare policies, procedures and funding.
The Republican Steering Committee, which names Committee chairs, will meet this week. Committee Chairs then appoint their subcommittee chairs. However, Majority Leader-elect John Boehner is a strong pro-life ally and he can urge the Chairman of the Energy and Commerce committee (whomever that might end up being) to appoint Congressmen Pitts and Burgess to these important subcommittee leadership positions.
ACTION: Please contact incoming Majority Leader Boehner and ask him to use his influence to assure that the Subcommittee chairs of the Energy and Commerce Committee are pro-life advocates who will carefully monitor and guard these gateways to legislation affecting human lives, born and pre-born. Phone: (202) 225-4000; Fax: (202) 225-5117