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Supreme Court Rules Anti-Gay Discrimination Illegal

In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that federal anti-discrimination laws cover gay and transgender individuals.

 

The high court ruled that when the law uses the word “sex,” it also protects people from being fired for being gay or transgender. Writing for the majority, Justice Neil Gorsuch concluded that the plain reading of the text leads to the conclusion that sex discrimination is not limited to ensuring that men and women are treated equally in the workplace. Instead, he noted that if an employer fired a man for being in a relationship with a man, but did not fire a woman for being in a relationship with a man, then that is a clear case of an employer discriminating against someone based on sex.

 

In his decision, Gorsuch wrote, “an employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision…”

 

The three dissenting justices disagreed. Justice Samuel Alito pointed out that in the decades following the enactment of the federal anti-discrimination law, no one thought it covered gay or transgender individuals. He said that the majority was re-writing the law, not interpreting it. In his dissent, he wrote, “If every single living American had been surveyed in 1964, it would have been hard to find any who thought that discrimination because of sex meant discrimination because of sexual orientation — not to mention gender identity, a concept that was essentially unknown at the time.”

 

The case concerned three individuals who were fired for being either gay or transgender.

 

The justices joining Gorsuch in the majority were Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Kagan, Sotomayor, Breyer, and Ginsburg.

 

Do you support the Supreme Court ruling that federal law protects gay and transgender individuals from discrimination?

Some States Shutting Down Abortions as Non-Essential Services

Across the nation, governors are shutting down businesses they deem as offering non-essential services. Some states have labeled abortion clinics are being non-essential. Now Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) is saying that more governors should shut down abortion clinics around the nation.

 

According to Sen. Kennedy, abortions are not a necessity during this time. He also says these clinics are diverting medical professionals from caring for people sick with COVID-19, and that these clinics have medical supplies that could be used elsewhere.

 

Four states have included restrictions on abortions in their lockdown orders. Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union have sued to stop these restrictions, with federal courts mostly siding against the shutdown orders. In Texas, a federal court ruled against the state shutting down abortion clinics, then another court reinstated the shutdown order.

 

Planned Parenthood and the ACLU argue that women still need abortions during the coronavirus crisis, and shutting down clinics would result in harm to these women. Other critics of these orders say that these governors are using this crisis as a pre-text to advance an anti-abortion agenda.

 

Do you think that abortion clinics should stay open during the coronavirus epidemic?

Ban on Gay Discrimination Faces Uphill Battle in Nebraska

A business coalition is pushing Nebraska legislators to enact a law to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Legislators and the governor are cool to the idea, however.

 

The business owners supporting this bill say it will help the state attract workers. They argue that in a world where businesses are competing for employees in a tight labor market, such a law would bolster the state’s reputation. That, they argue, will draw new workers.

 

Gov. Pete Ricketts is skeptical, however. He notes that many states with high-performing economies do not this type of anti-discrimination law. His spokesperson also said that such laws can be used to attack businesses whose owners have faith-based objections to performing certain transactions.

 

Legislators seemed more aligned to Gov. Ricketts’ position than the stance being taken by business groups. As in past sessions, there is a bill that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. And, just like in past sessions, it seems destined to be voted down. In previous years, however, there has not been a push by the statewide chamber of commerce or business groups in favor of the bill.

 

There are 25 states that have laws banning anti-gay discrimination.

 

Do you think that it hurts a state’s economy if that state does not have a law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity?

Senate Fails to Pass Abortion Ban Bill

A majority of senators voted in favor of two bills to limit abortion this week. But the votes were not enough to overcome a Democratic filibuster that prevented the legislation from advancing.

 

Here’s how VoteSpotter describes the two bills:

 

U.S. Senate Bill 311: Require care for child born after an abortion

To mandate that health care workers must provide a reasonable degree of care to a child born after an abortion or an attempted abortion and immediately admit that child to a hospital. This motion is to invoke cloture, which requires 60 votes, and would mean ending the debate and proceeding to a vote on the bill.

 

U.S. Senate Bill 3275: Ban abortion after 20 weeks

To prohibit a doctor from performing an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy unless it is to save the life of the mother or the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest. This vote is to invoke cloture, or to end debate on the bill, so requires 60 votes to pass.

 

On S. 311, Democratic Senators Bob Casey (PA), Joe Manchin (WV), and Doug Jones (AL) joined the Republicans in supporting it on a 56-41 vote. On S. 3275, Sen. Manchin broke with his party to support it while Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Susan Collins (ME) joined the Democrats in voting “no.” The tally for that bill was 53-44.

 

These two roll calls were not actual votes to pass the bill. Instead, they were votes for cloture, or to cut off debate on the bills. A cloture motion requires 60 votes to succeed. The failure to end debate means that the Democrats can continue to filibuster the bill, or refuse to allow a final vote.

 

The use of this technique to stop legislation was once used sparingly. Today, however, any action of significant interest is subject to a filibuster. Then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) ended the filibuster for lower court judges when Republicans were subjecting them to filibuster during President Obama’s time in office. Current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has ended the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees during President Trump’s term. The filibuster for legislation continues, however.

 

Do you think that the federal government should ban abortion after 20 weeks?

 

Court Allows Rule Defunding Planned Parenthood to Take Effect

A federal appeals court has rejected calls that it block a Trump Administration regulation that prohibits federally-funded family planning services from referring women for abortions.

 

This rule, issued in 2019, bans organizations that receive federal family planning funds from referring women to an abortion provider or from being associated with organizations that provide abortions. This regulation had a big effect on Planned Parenthood, which received significant federal family planning funding. After this rule went into effect, Planned Parenthood stopped accepting this money.

 

The federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Planned Parenthood and other plaintiffs who urged the court to block this rule. The court instead held that, given past Supreme Court precedent, the rule was likely to survive legal challenge and so courts should not stop it from going into effect. The Supreme Court had upheld similar restrictions on the use of federal money in the past.

 

Supporters of this rule argued that taxpayers should not be subsidizing the operation of organizations that provide abortions or counsel women to get abortions. They said that Planned Parenthood and other groups should be cut off from taxpayer dollars. Opponents countered that this rule would penalize poor women who use Planned Parenthood for family planning services unrelated to abortion.

 

There are still ongoing lawsuits over the ultimate fate of this regulations.

 

Do you think that the federal government should fund organizations like Planned Parenthood that refer women for abortions?

Florida to Require Parental Consent for Abortions

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is poised to sign a bill into law that will require minors who want an abortion to obtain parental consent. Abortion proponents are vowing to sue, saying it violates the state constitution.

 

Under the bill that legislators approved on Thursday, girls who are under 18 must obtain the consent of a parent prior to an abortion. Girls could seek a waiver from this requirement in cases of rape, incest, abuse, or when a parent may cause harm to the girl. Doctors who perform abortions without this consent would be guilty of a felony.

 

Supporters say that other medical procedures require parental consent, and abortion should be no different. They argue that an abortion is not a decision that a child should make alone. Opponents say that girls in this position should be free to make the best choice for them, and not to face repercussions from parents who may disapprove.

 

Those fighting this law also say that it violates the state constitution’s right to privacy. The point to a 1989 decision by the Florida Supreme Court holding that invalidated a parental consent statute.

 

Twenty-six other states have similar laws.

 

Do you support requiring that girls under 18 seek parental approval prior to an abortion?

 

Virginia Legislators Tackle Gun Control, Abortion, ERA

With Virginia voters last year giving Democrats complete power in Richmond, this year’s legislative session has seen the passage of numerous bills on hot-button issues. Here are some of the notable bills that were discussed or passed by legislators this week:

 

  • Enacting gun control. The House of Delegates passed legislation that would impose background checks on private gun sales, limit the purchase of handguns to one per month, and allow police to seize the firearms of someone they deem a threat. Similar legislation had already passed the state senate.
  • Loosening abortion restrictions. Both houses of the legislature have passed bills that would end the 24-hour waiting period before a woman can get an abortion, the requirement that doctors show a woman an ultrasound prior to abortion, and certain mandates on abortion clinics.
  • Passing the Equal Rights Amendment. The House of Delegates took a final vote to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Although the congressionally-mandated deadline has passed to ratify the amendment, Virginia becomes the last state necessary to add it to the Constitution. There will now be a legal fight over whether Congress can put a time limit on ratification.
  • Ending legislator immunity from arrest. After a state delegate was stopped on suspicion of drunk driving but was let go without being arrested, it prompted many to call for a change to the state constitution. A current provision in the constitution gives legislators immunity from arrest while the legislature is in session. This week, a senator introduced a constitutional amendment that would end that immunity.

 

Do you support ending the 24-hour-waiting period for abortions? Should handgun purchases be limited to one per month? Should legislators be immune from arrest during session?

Arizona Legislators Consider Banning LGBTQ Discrimination

This year’s legislative session in Arizona features two bills that would place legal limits on state residents’ ability to refuse service to gay, lesbian, or transgender individuals.

 

Currently, the state does not ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Some cities in the state have anti-discrimination laws, but a recent decision by Arizona Supreme Court established that business owners do not have to provide services for same-sex weddings. This has prompted statewide supporters of an anti-discrimination law to renew their efforts in the legislature.

 

Under the bills being considered, it would be illegal for business owners to refuse service to individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity in many circumstances. Under this bill, an employer could not fire an employee due to that employee being gay or a landlord could not refuse to rent to a transgender person.

 

Supporters say this bill is necessary to help ensure that Arizona law protects all Arizonans. They also argue that businesses will be attracted to the state because of it. Opponents counter that this could infringe upon the rights of religious Arizonans to conduct their businesses in line with their beliefs.

 

There have been anti-discrimination bills considered in previous legislative sessions, but none have advanced. It remains unclear what the prospects of this year’s legislation will be.

 

Do you think the law should prohibit business owners from discriminating against gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals?

Marijuana Legalization May Be Coming to New Mexico

If Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has her way, New Mexico will become the 12th state to legalize the sale and possession of marijuana for recreational uses.

 

Gov. Lujan Grisham is backing legislation that would legalize marijuana for adults in the state and set up a way to tax it. The state Senate is considering legislation this week that embodies the governor’s goals.

 

Legislators also considered bills last year that would have legalized recreational marijuana. While such proposals did gain some bipartisan support, they failed to pass. This year, legalization legislation is encountering some pushback from those who supported the previous year’s bills. Republicans and moderate Democrats are expressing skepticism about this year’s plan.

 

Supporters of recreational marijuana legalization note that other states have removed legal restrictions on the drug, and are not seeing problems because of it. They also point out how much the state can raise in tax revenue from legalized marijuana. Opponents argue that this will set up conflicts with the federal government. Those who oppose this year’s legislation also have differing views on how it should be sold and regulated.

 

New Mexico legislators began a 30-day session last week. It is unclear if Gov. Lujan Grisham will have enough support to accomplish her goal of marijuana legalization this year.

 

Do you support legalizing recreational marijuana for adults?

Trump Appears at Annual March for Life

Today is the 47th annual March for Life. But this year, the marchers have a special guest who has never joined them before – the president of the United States.

 

The March for Life is a yearly demonstration in Washington, D.C., near the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. That decision legalized abortion nationally. Republican presidents in the past have spoken before the March for Life, but have never appeared in person. This week, President Trump tweeted that he would join the marchers.

 

The march is occurring as anti-abortion legislators are enacted a raft of bills restricting the practice nationwide. These include laws that impose a host of new regulations on abortion clinics to outright bans after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. Federal judges have prevented most of these laws from going into effect. Supporters hope that the Supreme Court will take up one of these cases and use it to overrule Roe v. Wade and other decisions that have found that abortion is a constitutionally-protected right. If this occurs, then states would be free to legalize or ban abortion.

 

At the federal level, however, there is little momentum for nationwide laws dealing with abortion. Annual spending bills have a provision, known as the Hyde Amendment, that bars federal money from being used to pay for abortion except in limited circumstances. Some Democratic lawmakers want to see this removed, but have yet to succeed in doing so.

 

Do you support placing more restrictions on abortion, or banning it completely?

Equal Rights Amendment Passes in Virginia

After years of partisan disagreement over the Equal Rights Amendment, the Virginia legislature this week finally ratified it. Legislators’ action on this amendment now sets up a fight over whether or not this amendment should be added to the U.S. Constitution.

 

The Equal Rights amendment states:

 

Section 1: Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

Section 2: The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Section 3: This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

 

Congress passed the ERA in 1972 and sent it to states for ratification. The original resolution required that the necessary number of states (38, or three-fourths of the states) must act within 7 years or the amendment would die. Not enough states ratified the amendment within that time, so Congress extended the deadline to 1982. Even with this extended deadline, the ERA still failed to meet the necessary number of states for ratification.

 

During this time, 35 states ratified the ERA. However, as controversy grew over the amendment, 5 states rescinded their ratification. Since 2017, 3 states (including Virginia) have ratified the ERA. Democratic Virginia legislators have been attempting to pass the ERA in recent years, but their efforts were thwarted by the Republican majority. In last year's elections, Virginia voters gave Democrats the majority in the legislature.

 

The issue of whether states can rescind their ratification is a controversial one, with many experts saying that these rescissions are not valid. The statutory deadline for ratification is also under question. The Trump Administration has issued an opinion stating that even with 38 states ratifying the ERA (which does not count states that have rescinded their ratification), the congressionally-imposed deadline should bar the amendment from being added to the Constitution.

 

Virginia legislators were aware of these controversies, but dismissed them. They argued that it was their job to pass the amendment to support equal rights, recognizing that there will be a legal battle over whether the amendment will become part of the Constitution.

 

Supporters of the ERA say it is necessary to have a constitutional bar against discrimination based on sex. They argue that this is the only way to ensure that women’s rights are protected. Opponents counter that the Constitution already prohibits discrimination and that this amendment could lead courts to strike down restrictions on abortion.

 

Do you support the Equal Rights Amendment?

Tennessee to Debate Bill Setting Rules for Transgender Athletes

How transgender athletes play school sports is at issue in this year’s Tennessee legislative session.

 

Under HB 1572, schools that allow a transgender boy to compete on a girls’ team or a transgender girl to compete on a boys’ team would be penalized. Schools that do not assign transgender athletes to teams of their birth sex would lose state funding.

 

This legislation comes in the wake of growing concerns among some that transgender athletes have a competitive advantage when competing in gender-specific sports, especially transgender girls competing in girls’ sports. Some critics allege that these transgender athletes have a biological edge that sets them apart from other athletes.

 

Opponents of this legislation push back, saying that transgender girls are girls, and should not be discriminated against. They argue that this will single out transgender children and set back the effort to provide them equal rights.

 

If Tennessee legislators pass this legislation, the state will likely face a lawsuit.

 

Do you think transgender athletes should only be allowed to play on sports teams that align with their birth gender?

Ohio Legislature Considers Death Penalty for Abortion Doctors

If Ohio Republicans have their way, abortion will soon be banned in Ohio.

 

A third of the House GOP caucus in the Buckeye State have cosponsored a bill that would impose a total ban on abortion in the state. Under the legislation, there would be two new crimes in the state: abortion murder and aggravated abortion murder. The penalty for these crimes could be the death penalty.

 

This legislation would go far beyond Ohio’s current abortion law, which restricts abortions after six weeks of viability. This legislation, also known as the fetal heartbeat bill, has been stopped from going into effect by a federal judge.

 

Some pro-life leaders in the state, as well as Gov. Mike DeWine, are slow to embrace a total abortion ban. They note that this legislation will certainly face legal challenge. Unless the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, the law would not be constitutional.

 

 Supporters of the bill say that the time has come for a legal challenge to Roe v. Wade, the decision that legalized abortion nationwide. They argue that this bill could be the vehicle under which the Supreme Court reverses precedent and allows states to once again have the authority to allow or ban abortion.

 

Do you support an abortion ban? Should doctors who perform abortions face the death penalty?

Attorney General Barr Blasts “Militant Secularists”

Attorney General Bill Barr sees the “traditional moral order” of the U.S. as faltering. And he knows who is to blame: secularists.

 

In a speech last week to Notre Dame Law School, the attorney general laid out a vision of religious Americans as under attack by organized anti-religious forces. According to Barr, there is an organized effort to harm the Judeo-Christian religious tradition in the U.S:

 

This is not decay. It is organized destruction. Secularists, and their allies among the “progressives,” have marshaled all the force of mass communications, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values.

 

Barr listed a host of ills that he said were a result of the move away from religion:

 

the wreckage of the family … record levels of depression and mental illness, dispirited young people, soaring suicide rates, increasing numbers of angry and alienated young males, an increase in senseless violence and a deadly drug epidemic…

 

Many have criticized the attorney general’s remarks for fostering division. They say that he is making up a conspiracy against religion in order to find a scapegoat for societal problems. Some also accuse him of trying to shore up Christian voters for President Trump during a growing impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives.

 

However, Attorney General Barr also has his defenders. Conservatives and some Christian leaders have praised him for speaking up for what they see as beleaguered Christians. They argue that government officials, those in the media, and the entertainment industry is hostile to Americans of faith, so it is good to see the attorney general pushing back against this trend.

 

Do you agree with Attorney General Barr that America’s Judeo-Christian heritage is under attack?

Warren Lays Out Gay & Transgender Rights Plan

This week the Supreme Court heard arguments over whether federal law bars discrimination against homosexual and transgender Americans. Today, Sen. Elizabeth Warren outlined a plan focusing on gay, lesbian, and transgender rights.

 

Under Sen. Warren's plan, the federal government would expand its efforts on behalf of gay and transgender individuals in these ways:

  • Pass a federal law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Bar religious freedom laws from being used as a legal defense for individuals or businesses to refuse services to those who are gay or transgender
  • Prohibit the Transportation Security Administration from singling out transgender individuals
  • Require that federal contractors do not discriminate against gay or transgender workers
  • Direct the federal government to seek out anti-gay and transgender discrimination by business owners and employers
  • Enact a federal law that prohibits conversion therapy
  • Mandate that school districts adopt anti-bulling policies that include a focus on gay and transgender bullying
  • Provide federal funding for police departments to identify implicit anti-gay bias
  • End the requirement that federal prisons assign prisoners based on their birth sex

 

In her statement outlining the plan, Sen. Warren takes direct aim at President Trump. Many of the items in her proposal are direct responses to what she says are Trump Administration rollbacks of protections for gay, lesbian, and transgender Americans.

 

Do you support a federal law banning gay conversion therapy? Should the federal government seek out anti-gay and anti-transgender discrimination by business owners and employers instead of relying on reports of such discrimination?

Court Begins Hearing Challenge to Tennessee’s Abortion Waiting Period

A federal court challenge to Tennessee’s mandate that women seeking an abortion must undergo a mandatory waiting period began today in Nashville.


Under Tennessee, a woman seeking an abortion must visit a clinic once to receive counseling and set up an appointment for a procedure, then wait 48 hours until the procedure occurs. Thirteen other states have some form a mandatory waiting period for abortions.

 

Supporters of the law argue that it gives women a chance to reflect on their decision and possibly change their mind. Opponents, however, say that it places a large burden on women who must make two trips to an abortion clinic. They note that many women travel far distances to abortion clinics, so requiring them to do so twice is especially burdensome.

 

Similar bans have been challenged in other states. The Iowa Supreme Court struck down a law in that state that mandated a waiting period of 72 hours. A federal court ruled a Florida law mandating a 24-hour waiting period was unconstitutional, but that case is currently under appeal. The Supreme Court ruled in 1992 that a Pennsylvania law requiring a 24-hour waiting period was constitutional.

 

Do you think that states should be able to impose a mandatory waiting period on women seeking an abortion?

Arizona Court Rules Against Forcing Artists to Work Same-Sex Wedding

Where does speech end and commerce begin? That is a key question in the debate over what legal protections should apply for business owners who participate in same-sex weddings.


Yesterday the Arizona Supreme Court held that two calligraphers and artists could not be forced to produce work for a same-sex wedding. The court’s decision concluded that calligraphy and artist expression was speech, and that a business owner could not be compelled to produce speech that contains a message the person disagrees with.

 

The case involved business owners who refused to produce wedding calligraphy for a same-sex wedding. The couple getting married sued, arguing that this refusal constituted discrimination based on sexual orientation. The court disagreed, saying that this type of activity was not mere commerce, but also involved “pure speech.”

 

The issue of whether business owners who think same-sex marriage is sinful can be compelled to provide services to these types of marriages is one that has emerged in states around the nation. Often, the issue involves anti-discrimination laws fit with constitutional protections for religion and speech.  

 

In its 4-3 decision, the Arizona Supreme Court decided that the principle of free speech was paramount:

 

[The business owners'] beliefs about same-sex marriage may seem old-fashioned, or even offensive to some. But the guarantees of free speech and freedom of religion are not only for those who are deemed sufficiently enlightened, advanced, or progressive. They are for everyone. After all, while our own ideas may be popular today, they may not be tomorrow.

 

However, the court also noted that this was a limited decision focused on the calligraphy business in question. It did not hold that all business activities could be shielded from ordinances that banned discrimination based on sexual orientation.

 

Do you agree that business owners should not be compelled to produce artistic items for same-sex weddings or other activities that violate their religious beliefs?

 

 

New Rule Gives Federal Contractors More Leeway on Religious-Based Hiring

Religious-based organizations and companies that contract with the federal government may soon be able to make more business decisions based on their religious beliefs. The Trump Administration has proposed a new rule that would relax federal restrictions on whom these organizations can hire and fire.

 

Under the rule, company owners with sincere religious beliefs would be allowed to make hiring decisions consistent with those beliefs and still be federal contractors. The practical effect would be that some federal contractors could refuse to hire people of certain religions or sexual orientations. This rule reverses previous policy that required federal contractors to disregard religious views in hiring or firing when it came to certain people.

 

Critics say that the rule will allow companies to discriminate against gays, lesbian, and transgender individuals using taxpayer dollars. They contend this is a way for President Trump to repay religious supporters who have an anti-gay bias. Supporters counter that this rule will widen the field for federal contracting by allowing contractors to serve the public without violating their religious beliefs.

 

The Department of Labor has announced this as a proposed rule. This means that the public can comment on it for the next two months, then the rule will be finalized. Once that happens, it is certain to face legal challenges.

 

Do you think that the federal government should allow contractors to make hiring decisions that are informed by the contractor’s religious beliefs?

Tennessee Considering Abortion Ban

In a move sure to spark a court challenge, Tennessee legislators are considering passing a bill that would amount to a ban on abortion in the state.

 

Under the proposed bill, abortions would be banned at the moment a viable pregnancy is presume to exist or has been confirmed to exist. This means that as soon as a pregnancy can be detected by a test, usually within a couple weeks of conception, no abortion could be performed. This ban goes further than bans in other states that prohibit abortions when the fetus develops a heartbeat.

 

A similar bill was considered but not passed earlier this year in Tennessee. While Republicans control the legislature, not all of them support an abortion ban bill that goes this far. The lieutenant governor also opposes it.

 

Critics of the bill say that it goes much further to ban abortion that the Supreme Court allows. The high court’s decisions permit abortion bans when a fetus is viable outside of the womb. This bill bans abortion far earlier than this standard. Supporters recognize that passage of such a bill will involve court challenges, but say this would be a vehicle for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. If the court does this, it would end the national legalization of abortion and allow states to set their own rules for the procedure.

 

Legislators considered the bill during a special “study session” of the legislature. No bill can be passed during such a session, but this step does ready a bill for consideration when the regular session of the legislature occurs in January.

 

Do you think that states should be able to ban abortion?

Abortion Funding Ban Stays in Spending Bill

There has been a prohibition on spending federal money on abortion for over forty years. Reversing this ban has become a popular issue with Democrats running for president. However, the spending bill moving through the House of Representatives once again contains this ban, and House Democrats are not taking steps to strip it out.

 

In 1976, then-Rep. Henry Hyde sponsored an amendment to an annual government spending bill that prohibits federal funding for abortions except in the cases of rape, incest, or saving the life of the mother. This provision has been in every yearly spending bill since then. This includes the Labor-HHS-Education legislation currently being considered by the House of Representatives.

 

At the time of its enactment, the Hyde Amendment had bipartisan support. Today, however, Democrats are increasingly critical of it. Former Vice President Joe Biden had been a backer of the ban, but recently reversed his stance. By doing this, he joined his fellow Democratic candidates for president who want to see federal money paying for abortions.

 

While Democrats may not like the Hyde Amendment, there is no real effort to remove it from this year’s spending legislation. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi argues that the spending bill needs bipartisan support to avoid a government shutdown, so Democrats should accept this provision to advance their overall goals.

 

Those backing the Hyde Amendment contend that taxpayers should not be funding a procedure that many Americans consider tantamount to murder. They say that federal health care programs, such as Medicaid, should focus spending on other health care priorities. Those opposing this amendment say that banning the use of federal funds for abortion deprives poor women of the full range of reproductive choice.

 

Do you think that federal funds should be used to pay for abortions for Medicaid recipients and others in government health care programs?

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