Four years ago today, a jury was deliberating the fate of Kermit Gosnell. That trial ended with Gosnell serving life in prison for murder and manslaughter.

Today, a GOP-majority Congress, with a GOP president looking on, can’t agree on when or how to prevent taxpayer funds from going to abortion providers.

What does the spine-snipping abortionist have to do with abortion funding? Only this: a member of Congress who remembers Gosnell’s crimes with disgust is unlikely to support sending tax dollars to an abortion industry that fights regulation.  Conversely, a member of Congress who supports tax funding of abortion providers, or who is indifferent to that funding, is someone who has forgotten or ignored the crimes of Kermit Gosnell and his many enablers.

While the Gosnell trial was going on in Pennsylvania, abortion-related legislation was being considered in my own state. I remember a representative of NARAL dismissing Gosnell as an “outlier.” There was no need to tighten up  abortion regulation, said the lobbyist, since there were no Gosnells in our fair state (she said). Representatives of local abortion providers echoed the “outlier” line.

To this day, my state has no limit on when abortions may be performed or who may perform them. There’s no law requiring treatment of infants who survive attempted abortion. There’s no requirement for abortion facilities to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical facilities. There’s no collection of abortion statistics, including statistics on maternal morbidity and mortality, and therefore no way to spot an abortion provider who injures women the way Gosnell did.

Every attempt to pass laws to prevent future Gosnells has been resisted by lobbyists for the abortion industry. And still, there are elected officials belonging to a nominally pro-life party who can’t quite figure out how to keep that industry from picking my pocket. I don’t let state officials off the hook, either; they’re the ones who award state contracts to abortion providers.

I hear the nervous whispers from officeholders who buy the 3% lie: but these agencies do so much good…

Spare me. An agency that lobbies against laws to protect women’s health and safeguard children who survive attempted abortion is not “doing good.”

I understand the nature of budgets and the need for consensus and prudence. This anniversary, though, this reminder of Gosnell, renders me impatient to see an end to public funding of abortion providers.

(While I’m mentioning Gosnell, allow me to recommend the recent book Gosnell: the Untold Story of America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer by Ann McElhinney & Phelim McAleer. It’s not just about Kermit Gosnell. The authors make sure that the people who helped bring him to justice get their due.)

Ellen Kolb writes at EllenKolb.com and blogs about life issues in New Hampshire at Leaven for the Loaf.
Support independent journalism by hitting Da Tip Jar for Da Tech Guy Blog.

 

Abortion’s legal. So is declining to put it on the public dime. That’s been the uneasy truce for many years between abortion providers (and promoters) and American taxpayers. Uneasy, and shaky: even since 1976 with the Hyde Amendment, children conceived through violence have always been at risk of abortion at public expense.

This week,  the U.S. House has taken a step toward making the Hyde Amendment permanent, and President Trump has reinstated the Mexico City policy. The Hyde Amendment refers to abortion-funding limitations in the domestic Health and Human Services budget, which must be renewed each budget cycle. The Mexico City policy (named for the location of the 1984 U.N. conference where the policy was first adopted) prevents U.S. money sent to the United Nations Population Fund from being used for abortion activity, as distinct from family planning.

The Mexico City policy has been in effect under every Republican president since Reagan. It was revoked by Democrats Clinton and Obama. For a generation, it has been an indicator of one of the differences between the two major parties: Democrats want public money to be available for abortion in all circumstances. Republicans don’t.

There are resisters to the Hyde and Mexico City provisions, of course, who have dusted off the moniker “global gag rule” to describe the Mexico City policy . Let the hashtagging begin. You’re not only trying to keep people from doing abortions, but even talking to women about abortion, say the hashtaggers. No, we’re just trying to keep the hands of abortion providers out of the pockets of people who recognize that abortion terminates human life.

A woman is free to choose abortion. Are you and I free to refuse to pay for it? The opponents of Hyde and Mexico City say no. They defend choice for the abortion-minded woman, but not for the pro-life taxpayer.

The “gag rule” argument is one of two used by coerced-funding fans. The other is the claim that abortion is health care and must be treated as such. Both arguments get more traction every time a politician parrots them without dispute.

Attorney Cathleen Cleaver, speaking to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2001, noted that any “gag” on abortion providers under the Mexico City policy is self-imposed.

…the policy forces nothing: Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) may choose to apply for U.S. tax funds, and to be eligible, they must refrain from abortion activity. On the other hand, NGOs may choose to do abortions or to lobby foreign nations to change their laws which restrict abortion, and if they choose that path they render themselves ineligible for U.S. money. As we saw the last time the policy was in place [under President Reagan], only two out of hundreds of organizations elected to forfeit the U.S. money for which they were otherwise eligible. But it was and will be entirely their choice.

Hyde has been a legislative action. Mexico City has been an executive action. The judiciary weighed in on this a long time ago, coming down on the side of people who choose not to fund abortion, upholding the Hyde Amendment in Harris v. McRae (1980). Yet public funding of abortion activity is still an open question: Hyde must be proposed anew every two years, use of the Mexico City policy depends on the personal preferences of a president, and what today’s Supreme Court might do if faced with a funding case is anyone’s guess.

This week’s actions by President Trump and the House are most welcome. They may prove to be only passing victories, though, unless the people who want nothing to do with the abortion industry become as noisy and persistent as the people determined to fund the industry publicly.

By the way, I heard Cecile Richards crowing after the election that the advent of Trump has led to a huge increase in donations to Planned Parenthood. How many of those donations were designated for political use rather than clinical care? How much public funding could be offset by these donations, if Planned Parenthood so chose? Are we going to see those figures anytime during this year’s funding debate?

Not long after Roe v. Wade federalized abortion policy, Members of Congress led by Henry Hyde moved to prevent federal funds from being used for abortions. The Hyde Amendment was finally added to the Medicaid program as a rider to the Health and Human Services budget on September 30, 1976. The rider has been added in every federal budget cycle since then. The Hyde Amendment restricts – but does not altogether prevent – federal taxpayer funding of abortion.

Abortion providers have tried to torpedo the Hyde Amendment since the day it was proposed. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is a determined foe of Hyde. Slate quotes her as saying that it “mak[es] it harder for low-income women to exercise their full rights.” Clinton and candidates in step with her are prepared to coerce all taxpayers into subsidizing abortion.

Donald Trump is reportedly willing to support the Hyde Amendment, according to Marjorie Dannenfelser, chairwoman of Trump’s pro-life coalition. “Not only has Mr. Trump doubled down on his three existing commitments to the pro-life movement, he has gone a step further in pledging to protect the Hyde Amendment and the conscience rights of millions of pro-life taxpayers.”

Absent a presidential veto, it’s the Members of Congress who determine whether the Hyde Amendment goes into the budget. A presidential candidate’s coattails will have something to do with the makeup of Congress, though, so the views of the presidential candidates matter.

As the Hyde Amendment turns 40, and acting independently of any campaign or party, a diverse group of pro-life Americans led by Secular Pro-Life has launched the #HelloHyde campaign. #HelloHyde not only marks the anniversary of the Hyde Amendment, but also celebrates the lives of children born under Medicaid since the amendment was first used. The #HelloHyde campaigners want the Hyde Amendment to be not only protected but broadened.

More power to them. From the campaign’s web site:

Medicaid should cover birth, not death….

The Hyde Amendment’s life-saving impact is hard to overstate. Both supporters and opponents agree that the Hyde Amendment has prevented over a million abortions. The disagreement, sad to say, is over whether that’s a good thing.

#HelloHyde estimates that of the people born through the Medicaid program since the Hyde Amendment was enacted (“Medicaid kids”), 1 in 9 would have died in the absence of Hyde Amendment protection. That estimate comes from a recently released report by the Charlotte Lozier Institute, which found that the Hyde Amendment has saved 2.13 million lives.

The #HelloHyde web site includes photos of  some of the Medicaid kids. I hope opponents of the Hyde Amendment see those photos, which might provoke some thought about which of those kids ought to have been killed at public expense.