As the House of Representatives debates the Protect Life Act, a proposal that would ban abortion funding throughout the federal budget, a website has been launched to allow citizens to voice their support for the bill.
“Relying on an Executive Order is not effective in protecting the sanctity of life in the health care law," said Matt Smith, Vice President of Catholic Advocate Voice, explaining the motivation for his organization's new initiative at www.protectlifeact.org.
Through the new website, supporters of the act can sign a petition voicing their concerns, contact their representative in Congress to urge passage of the act, and find out who its supporters are in the current Congress.
The Protect Life Act would amend the health care reform law so that federal funds cannot be used to subsidize abortion or health care plans that cover it. It would also strengthen conscience protections for individuals and institutions which refuse to perform abortions.
Smith described the Protect Life Act as a “positive step in restoring the Hyde amendment language to the health care law.” The Hyde Amendment has been routinely appended to Congressional appropriations bills to prevent abortion funding in the past, although such language did not make the cut when Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2010.
“The Protect Life Act will finally codify these protections,” Smith observed, “and remove any doubt about taxpayer funded abortions opposed by an overwhelming majority of Americans.”
The act, under debate since Feb. 8, has received the endorsement of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Despite their support for expanded health care coverage, the U.S. bishops have maintained that the 2010 health care reform law was “profoundly flawed in its treatment of abortion.”
Although President Obama issued an executive order that purported to ban such funding, the bishops' legal advisers and pro-life secretariat have pointed out that it does so only in certain cases rather than across the board.
The Catholic Health Association – despite its support for the health care law, which it insists does not fund abortion – has also endorsed the proposal to amend it using the language of the Hyde amendment, as the Protect Life Act would do.