Pro-life groups and members also warned on Monday that important health care conscience protections were missing from the Labor-HHS legislation. The bill forbids Medicare Advantage funding of health care providers and institutions if they refuse to provide, pay for, cover, or refer for abortions, and if the HHS Secretary denies them participation because of their refusal.
“That’s basically a gift to Xavier Becerra, who, when he was out in California, he was the one who was fighting the Weldon Amendment and wanting churches who had health care plans to pay for abortion,” McClusky told CNA.
Beccera, currently HHS Secretary, formerly served as California’s attorney general. He was found in violation of the Weldon Amendment by the Trump Administration, for his defense of California’s abortion coverage mandate. That state requirement forced employers to cover abortions in employee health plans, and did not exempt an order of Catholic religious.
“This is an essential right of every American, and its removal is a danger to us all,” Rep. Cole said of the removal of conscience protections, noting that President Biden did not exclude the conscience language from his budget request to Congress in May.
In the bill’s section on the Title X federal family planning program, it requires patients with positive pregnancy tests to be given information on prenatal and infant care, adoption, and abortion, by Title X recipients. Under the bill, Title X recipients also must make abortion referrals upon request.
“This is, clear and simple, a coercion order,” McClusky told CNA.
The Labor-HHS appropriations bill advanced this week as another proposed spending bill – which would fund the State Department, foreign operations, and “related programs” – allows for direct funding of international abortions and pro-abortion groups in federal programs.
The State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriations bill provides for increased funding of international family planning and global health programs without the usual restrictions on funding of international abortions.
It excludes the Helms Amendment, which prohibits funding of elective abortions overseas; it would also permanently repeal the Mexico City Policy, executive policy that forbids funding of international pro-abortion NGOs in U.S. global health assistance.
The pro-abortion group Population Action International said the appropriations bill “exceeded the expectations” of “sexual and reproductive health and rights advocates.”
Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, spoke out against the legislative text at a July 1 markup hearing. He told CNA in an interview last week that the bill’s support for international abortion was unprecedented.
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“It not only exceeded expectations, it’s unthinkable, what is about to happen, that Americans for the first time in 50 years are going to be forced to export abortion overseas. This is how sad that division is,” Fortenberry told CNA last week.
“What is the purpose of diplomacy? It’s to create the space for mutuality and trust, so that there can be healthy dialogue between nations, and for the prospects of both stability and peace,” he said.
“How does this further peace? It takes our own [abortion] division and puts it on other peoples – which they do not want, by the way. So, it smacks of arrogance, it smacks of elitism, and as I said, Pope Francis has called this ‘ideological colonization’.”