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House Committee Examines Taxpayer Funding for Abortions

On September 17, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a hearing, “Protecting Infants: Ending Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Providers Who Violate the Law.” The hearing focused on the Protecting Infants Born Alive Act (as-yet-unnumbered) and the Protect Infants from Partial-Birth Abortions Act (as-yet-unnumbered). According to a committee background memo, the purpose of the bills is “to strengthen enforcement against providers who violate the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-207) and the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 (P.L. 108-105).”

Sponsored by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), the Protecting Infants Born Alive Act would clarify states’ ability to exclude from Medicaid any medical provider who the state suspects has violated the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act. In addition, the bill would exclude such providers from participation in federal health care programs, such as Medicaid, Medicare, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

According to the committee summary, the Protect Infants from Partial-Birth Abortions Act, sponsored by Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC), would “provide greater clarity for states with respect to providers who the state suspects conduct partial birth abortions.” Specifically, the measure would give states greater discretion in excluding medical providers who perform such abortions from state Medicaid programs and would ensure that such providers would be excluded from federal health care programs.

Speaking in support of the legislation, Dr. Charmaine Yoest, president and chief executive officer, Americans United for Life (AUL), said, “States should be permitted to withdraw or deny Medicaid funding to individuals and entities that violate the letter and spirit of these widely supported laws against infanticide. The proposals introduced by Rep. Ellmers and Rep. Blackburn are a critical first step towards a solution to safeguard the integrity of the Medicaid program, the integrity of the medical profession, and the lives of our most vulnerable young Americans. Further, AUL strongly recommends that the federal Born Alive Infant Protection Act be strengthened with criminal penalties to ensure meaningful enforcement of the most basic human right to life for these infants who survive attempted abortions.”

“The bills before the committee today go dangerously beyond what the law currently provides,” said Judy Waxman, attorney. Ms. Waxman continued, “Specifically, the bills would allow a Medicaid provider to be excluded from the program if the state merely suspects that a provider, or an employee of an entity that receives Medicaid funds, has broken either law at issue. These bills would gut the entire purpose of the ‘freedom of choice’ provision, a critical provision that requires states to allow all qualified providers to participate in Medicaid. These bills would instead allow politicians to decide which providers women can see based on the politician’s ideology. These bills would deny millions of women the ability to choose a high-quality health care provider for essential health care, and it could leave many of them with no access at all.”

Casey Mattox, senior counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom, also testified.

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