How The Omnibus Spending Bill Restricts Abortion Funding

  @ericbrownzzz on January 14 2014 7:42 PM
US Capitol 2013
U.S. Capitol. Reuters

Congress unveiled its comprehensive $1.1 trillion omnibus appropriations bill on Tuesday, containing many familiar pro-life clauses restricting the use of federal funding for abortions.

Days after Republicans announced the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which would ban the D.C. government from using taxpayer money on abortions, the omnibus appropriations bill (Warning: large PDF) also contains a number of pro-life measures, including bans on federal abortion funding and millions of dollars for abstinence-only education.

“No funds appropriated by this Act shall be available to pay for an abortion,” reads the bill’s first provision against abortions, “or the administrative expenses in connection with any health plan under the Federal employees health benefits program which provides any benefits or coverage for abortions.”

The bill goes on to restrict federal funding for abortions in the District of Columbia, for federal prisoners and as a part of U.S. foreign aid. The appropriations bill also bans the use of federal money from lobbying for or promotion abortion “as a method of family planning” or providing referrals for abortions under the Medicare Advantage program.

In effect, the bill bans the use of any federal money going towards an abortion, with the exceptions in the cases of rape, incest or medical emergency on the part of the mother. The bill also clarifies that it has no power to stop any non-federal governing bodies from providing for abortions or to stop healthcare providers from offering abortion coverage.

In addition to barring federal funding for most abortions, the appropriations bill also provides several million dollars for abstinence only-education.

Under a provision granting $458 million to health and human services research and prevention, the appropriations bill guarantees $5 million “for making competitive grants to provide abstinence education to adolescents. The bill clarifies that educators will not teach students anything about sex or sexual conduct outside of immediate health concerns.

Though the omnibus appropriations bill contains a number of pro-life measures, some conservative groups feel that it doesn’t go far enough in defunding abortions on the federal level. Heritage Action, a Koch brothers-funded conservative advocacy organization, has denounced the bill as too lax on abortion restrictions.

“While many major pro-life riders were included in the omnibus, the bill will still send taxpayer funding to health plans that cover abortion under Obamacare,” Heritage said in a statement urging Congress members to vote “no” on the measure.

“Taxpayers will foot the bill for federal subsidies for the purchase of health plans on the Obamacare exchanges that went live online Oct. 1, and some of those plans could cover elective abortion,” the statement continued. “This flood of new funding could significantly increase the number of abortions covered by taxpayer-subsidized plans.”

Join the Discussion