Washington D.C. (CNA) - In the first day of the new congressional session, the House of Representatives passed a spending bill that includes a provision to repeal a pro-life policy. The bill was one of two appropriations bills passed on Thursday in an attempt to end the partial government shutdown.
The bill, which would resume funding for the federal government, includes language that would repeal the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy, which prevents non-governmental organizations from receiving U.S. health assistance funds if they either promote or provide abortions.
Pro-life congressmen and campaigners spoke out against the rider which would overturn the policy.
In a floor speech, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) criticized newly-elected Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for it inclusion in the bill, saying it would “eviscerate” the pro-life protection.
“Madam Speaker, if reopening the government is the goal, if ending the shutdown is the goal, why does this appropriations package contain a brand-new poison pill rider, Section 7071, that overturns a major, comprehensive, current-day pro-life policy?” asked Smith.
Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser condemned the move, saying that it showed the real priorities of the new House majority leadership.
“While many lawmakers are focused on getting the government funded and running, Nancy Pelosi did not waste a moment trying to force American taxpayers to prop up the abortion industry. Her first act as Speaker leaves no doubt about House Democrats’ senseless priorities for the next two years,” said Dannenfelser.
Smith praised the policy as one that “establishes pro-child safeguards that are benign and humane conditions” that seek to protect “innocent children who might otherwise die from chemical poisoning or by dismemberment.”
“For years, pro-abortion organizations have used U.S. taxpayer funds to weaken, undermine or reverse pro-life laws in other nations, and destroy precious lives of these children,” he said.
Smith also accused Pelosi of inconsistency, noting that earlier in the day she had “admonished [the House] to protect God’s creation.”
“These unborn children are God’s creation. They cry out for our protection,” Smith stated.
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), the House Minority Whip, accused the House Democrats of attempting to “Sneak a provision into their funding bill that allows taxpayer dollars to fund abortions in foreign countries.”
Writing on Twitter, Scalise also called the legislation a “sham bill.”
The House spending bill is identical to one approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee in June, 2018, though that bill was never considered by the full Senate.
Despite the bill’s passage by the House, it is unlikely to become law. The Republican Senate Majority leadership indicated Thursday that they will not be considering either of the bills passed by the Democratic-controlled House.
Dannenfelser also expressed her hopes that the bill’s provisions would not come into effect.
“We are confident that as the fight over funding the government continues, the pro-life Senate majority and the President will not stand for any attempt to undermine this administration’s pro-life policies,” she said.
The Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy was brought in by President Trump in 2017. It is an expanded version of the Mexico City Policy which applied to NGOs receiving global family planning assistance funds from the United States.
Since it was first implemented by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, the Mexico City Policy has regularly been rescinded Democratic presidents and then re-instituted by Republican presidents when they take office.
The Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the taxpayer funding of abortions in the United States, is not impacted by this legislation.
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Editor's note: A quote from Rep. Smith has been updated following a clarification. The relevent section of the spending bill is 7010.