Thank you for inviting me to provide testimony on the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act."
Thirty-five years ago something of a consensus was reached between those who support legal abortion and those who oppose it: Whatever our differences on the underlying question of legality, a majority of Americans came together in support of the proposition that the federal government should not subsidize abortions.
That consensus took the form of the Hyde Amendment of 1976, which limited abortion funding appropriated under Labor/HHS to cases where an abortion was necessary to save a mother's life and later to cases involving rape or incest.
The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Hyde Amendment in Harris v. McCrae and in so doing made a sharp distinction between abortions and other medical procedures. In the words of the Court, "no other procedure involves the purposeful termination of a potential life."
That abortion is scandalous to many is understandable; that it is exceptionally controversial in the United States is beyond dispute. For these reasons, it is entirely appropriate that abortions not be subsidized in any way by the federal government.
The "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" implements this legal and political consensus on a government-wide basis.
Over the years the Hyde Amendment and others like it have been included in various appropriations bills renewed annually by Congress. What has been lacking is a single, simple, law prohibiting government funding of abortion across the board, wherever federal dollars are expended.
We taxpayers paid for 425 abortions in FY2008 and 220 last year. Without the Hyde Amendment and the patchwork of other appropriations riders, that number could skyrocket to as many 675,000 government-financed abortions every year, according to the CBO.
Two measures passed in the last Congress also threaten to escalate the number of government-funded abortions dramatically. The D.C. Appropriations bill opened the door to federal funding for any and every abortion in the District of Columbia, and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known popularly as "ObamaCare," authorized federal funding for elective abortions directly and through private health insurance plans. A detailed accounting of the abortion subsidies in "ObamaCare" is included in my written testimony. Because these programs are directly appropriated, and not subject to further appropriation under Labor/HHS, they are not subject to the Hyde Amendment.
As for the executive order purporting to nullify the abortion-funding language, last month former White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, admitted that he "came up with an idea for an executive order" so that the abortion funding restrictions would "not...exist by law." On this he and I are in agreement, with each other and with Planned Parenthood, who issued a statement calling the Executive Order "a symbolic gesture."
It's axiomatic that when government subsidizes conduct, it encourages it. Our tax code is replete with pertinent examples. The Supreme Court in Maher v. Roe acknowledged the truth of this proposition in the context of abortion.
Most abortions in America are purely elective -- 92% of abortions every year are performed on healthy women with healthy babies, according to the Guttmacher Institute. In light of this fact, the abortion-funding question is quite literally, a matter of life-and-death for many thousands of American children.
President Obama has urged Americans to find common ground on the controversial issue of abortion. Americans have come together, 67% of us, in what may be the only truly bi-partisan agreement possible: That whatever our differences on abortion, we can agree that the federal government should not subsidize it. This is the common ground on abortion in America. H.R. 3 would make that common ground statutory law.