The House Rules Committee on Tuesday voted against a rule that would allow a House floor vote of an appropriations bill amendment which would restore a ban on abortion funding in the District of Columbia.
Unlike other U.S. states and territories, the budget for the District of Columbia is reviewed and modified by Congress and the President before it is approved.
In its submission for the fiscal year 2010, the Obama administration reversed the “Dornan Amendment,” introduced in 1988 to prevent both federal and local tax dollars from funding abortions in the District of Columbia. Exceptions were included for rape and a mother's life being at risk.
Under the Obama administration's alterations, the prohibition will only apply to federal tax money, and the exemptions would be expanded to include any case “where a woman suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness,” including those physical conditions that endanger the life of the mother.
The changes made to the Dornan provision prompted Reps. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) and Lincoln Davis (D-TN) to propose a new amendment to restore the restrictions.
The proposal had eight additional Congressmen from both parties as cosponsors. The amendment would have modified the Financial Services Appropriations Bill, but it was ruled out of order under existing House rules.
Two co-sponsors of the amendment, Reps. Bart Stupak (D-MI) and Chris Smith (R-NJ) will be voting against both the final bill and the obstructing committee rule, a press release from the Republican National Coalition for Life (RNCL) said.
Because of the rule, pro-life Congressmen will not have an opportunity to vote directly to restore the funding ban.
“A vote to pass the Financial Services bill without the full DC funding ban is considered a vote for taxpayer funded abortion in the District of Columbia,” commented the RNCL.
Colleen Parro, RNCL Executive Director, explained via e-mail that implications of the House Rules Committee ruling.
“The only way the Dornan language can have a chance for debate and a vote is if the rule is defeated when considered by the full House. That would require pro-life Democrats to join with pro-life Republicans to vote ‘No’ on the rule. This is pretty technical stuff for the ordinary grassroots pro-lifer to understand.
“It’s also unlikely that it can happen,” she added, explaining that some pro-life groups plan to score representatives based on their vote on the rule that prevented vote, as well as their vote on the bill.