Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Life Implications of LHHS Appropriations Markup

This afternoon, the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health & Human Services, Education (LHHS) marked up the FY2020 Labor, Health & Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill.

All longstanding pro-life provisions within the bill were retained, including the Hyde Amendment, which protects taxpayer dollars from paying for abortion (see below).

During the mark-up, LHHS Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) said that the Hyde Amendment was included in the subcommittee bill because President Donald Trump has committed to veto any bill that weakens pro-life policy. LHHS Ranking Member Tom Cole (R-OK) expressed support for the pro-life provisions in the bill and called for concerns like the Title X language (described below) to be addressed in a bipartisan manner.

The following are items of concern in the draft bill text:

TITLE X: The Title X Family Planning Program is funded at $400 million.  (The FY19 funding level was $286 million).

In addition, the draft bill blocks the Trump Administration’s final pro-life Title X rule; it requires the Title X program to be carried out the way it was under the Obama Administration. Without the final rule, the Title X program has funded family planning through organizations that promote and may even provide abortion.

Problematic language: “Provided, That the Secretary shall carry out section 1001 of the PHS Act solely in accordance with any regulations or other conditions or instructions established by the Secretary pursuant to the authority under section 1006 of the PHS Act that applied as of January 18, 2017, to grants and contracts awarded under section 1001 of the PHS Act.” (pg. 48).

TEEN PREGNANCY PREVENTION (TPP) FUNDING: TPP is funded at $110 million. (In FY19, TPP was funded at $101 million).

TPP has been a funding stream for abortion provider Planned Parenthood, its programs have been ineffective at reducing teen pregnancy, STDs, and risky behavior and its curricula may actively support abortion and undermine parental involvement. The text includes a requirement to continue funding grantees, like Planned Parenthood, who received funding under the Obama Administration

Problematic language: “continuing to fund through fiscal year 2020 grants awarded for fiscal years 2015 through 2019” (pg. 90)

SEXUAL RISK AVOIDANCE FUNDING: SRA funding is eliminated in this bill. In FY19, SRA was funded at $35 million. Sexual risk avoidance was defined in H.R. 6157 as “voluntarily refraining from non-marital sexual activity.”

All long-standing pro-life provisions contained in the LHHS bill for decades are retained in the current draft bill:

DOMESTIC FUNDING BAN (HYDE)—bans federal funding of domestic abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother

ABORTION NON-DISCRIMINATION PROVISION (HYDE-WELDON)—provides conscience protection for health care entities by preventing HHS funding recipients from discriminating against health care providers because they refuse to provide, pay for, or refer for abortion

EMBRYO-DESTRUCTIVE RESEARCH FUNDING BAN (DICKEY-WICKER)—ban on federal funding of harmful human embryo research

ABUSE REPORTING—provision stating that Title X grantees are not exempt from state reporting laws on child abuse, child molestation, sexual abuse, rape or incest

MEDICARE ADVANTAGE CONSCIENCE PROTECTION—conscience protection for health care entities under the Medicare ADVANTAGE program to ensure that they will not be discriminated against in state and federal programs if they refuse to provide abortions

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