Saturday, March 16, 2019

Pro-Life Committee Activity

Wednesday morning, the House Judiciary Committee marked up H.R. 1585, the “Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) of 2019.”

During the mark-up, Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) offered an amendment to prohibit funding from going to any entity that fails to certify it will not perform abortions. A GAO report published in March 2018 showed that abortion provider Planned Parenthood received $340,000 through VAWA over three years (2013-2015).

When offering his amendment, Rep. Johnson noted reports that Planned Parenthood clinics have failed to report child sex abuse. He also said, “The purpose of VAWA is not to fund abortion, obviously; it is to protect women and children. Abortion is the opposite of that."

Wednesday afternoon, Department of Health and Human (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. Multiple life-related issues were addressed during the hearing:

Ranking Member Tom Cole (R-OK) spoke in support of the Title X rule and the Trump Administration’s other pro-life actions.

Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) expressed support for many of the Trump Administration’s pro-life actions, including the proposed Conscience Protection rule. He said. “I want to thank you for the conscience protection rule. The Little Sisters of the Poor should not have had to go to the Supreme Court of the United States in order to get justice in this country… Conceptualize this: you force them to provide a health care service in clear contradiction to their religious beliefs.”

Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) highlighted the Administration’s final Title X rule. He said, “The policy promotes life. We should all be for that, and I applaud you and the Administration for being one of the most pro-life Administrations we’ve seen in many, many years.”

Secretary Azar answered questioning from Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL) on the final Title X rule.

In response to her objections about the financial separation requirement, Secretary Azar said: “One of the common complaints raised…is that if you require the fiscal and physical separation of abortion services from Title X, you will cause the other services to go away. Almost by definition in making that argument one concedes that we have been subsidizing the abortion enterprise by the lack of appropriate fiscal and physical separation.”

Rep. Frankel expressed concern that the physical separation requirements will require abortion providers to obtain “new building, rent, and some extra expenses for that provider.”

To which Secretary Azar responded: “Exactly!... We are currently inappropriately subsidizing infrastructure, physical plant, and staffing of abortion services, which we believe is in violation of what you in Congress have put in the Title X provision to not provide funding to support abortion as a method of family planning.”

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