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Analysis: Pro-lifers will have to fight hidden abortion funding battles in the Senate

By Matt Hadro for CNA

(Image: Andy Feliciotti/Unsplash.com)

Washington D.C., Jan 7, 2021 / 01:24 pm (CNA).- With Democrats projected to win Tuesday’s Senate races in Georgia, the political landscape for pro-lifers is now clear—they will be defending on multiple fronts against an emboldened abortion lobby.

With Democrats holding 50 Senate seats plus Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ tiebreaking vote, they will have the slimmest of majorities in the Senate. While 60 votes are normally needed to pass legislation with the filibuster intact, a simple Senate majority can approve judicial nominees and pass certain budget bills.

As Democrats already hold the House and White House, it is at this Senate bottleneck where pro-lifers still have the best hope of fending off pro-abortion policies.

They will need Democrats to work with, and one new power broker—the moderate Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)—will be their best option. Representing a conservative state, Manchin will be a “swing” vote on controversial pieces of legislation and will face immense pressure from both Democratic and Republican leadership to vote with his caucus or break with them.

Yet Manchin is either a pro-life stalwart or an unreliable vote—depending on whom you talk to.

“He doesn’t give in to pressure,” said Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life of America, of Manchin. “The pro-life community needs to stand with him.”

However, other pro-life advocates are hesitant about Manchin’s pro-life credentials.

He has supported pro-life policies such as a 20-week abortion ban, a mandate of care for babies surviving abortions, and a ban on taxpayer funding of elective abortions. He has also flip-flopped on public funding of Planned Parenthood, and opposed a 2018 pro-life constitutional amendment in West Virginia—which voters enacted into law.

Manchin “hasn’t always been consistent,” Mallory Quigley, vice president of communications at the Susan B. Anthony List, told CNA.

He will “do whatever he can” to not be the “controversial” deciding vote in the Senate, warned Tom McClusky, president of March for Life Action.

“Anybody on our side who is expecting Joe Manchin to be the 51st vote in our favor doesn’t know Joe Manchin,” McClusky said. “He will be the 52nd vote, but he’s very rarely the 51st vote.”

One top priority of the abortion lobby is increasing taxpayer funding of abortion, and Manchin could very soon find himself at the center of this fight.

The Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funding of elective abortions in Medicaid, has become a target of House Democrats and even President-elect Biden in recent years. They have attacked the policy as discriminatory against low-income women who are more likely to use Medicaid.

It is no insignificant policy, as one pro-life group has estimated that it’s resulted in more than 2.4 million fewer abortions since it was enacted in 1976.

Manchin could very well stymie his own party and uphold the Hyde Amendment, as he told National Review recently that he was “strongly opposed” to repealing the policy.

However, while an outright repeal of the Hyde Amendment would trigger backlash by pro-life groups and could ultimately hurt Democrats’ chances of keeping the House in 2022, that doesn’t mean that public funding of abortion could not be increased through a number of other procedural strategies—without an outright repeal of Hyde.

The next spending bill to include pro-life provisions—or not—might involve COVID relief.

An example of this battle played out last year, when Speaker Pelosi promoted the HEROES Act as a massive and urgently-needed stimulus package. Pro-life members voted against the bill because of various provisions that subtly increased abortion funding.

These provisions included nearly $1 trillion in relief to state and local governments, $100 billion to “health care providers,” and funding of health plans that cover abortions–all without the necessary language that prohibits such funding from paying for abortions or abortion coverage.

Now, pro-life members may be forced again to vote against a stimulus bill during a pandemic because it funds abortions, abortion providers, and abortion coverage.

“I don’t see how, with the next round of COVID relief, that the pro-life groups don’t oppose [it],” McClusky told CNA.

And more abortion funding fights will arise later next year when Congress considers appropriations bills for various government agencies in FY 2022.

Manchin occupies an influential position on the Senate Appropriations Committee, which reviews and approves bills before they reach the Senate Floor. With Democrats only having a slim majority on the committee, he could thus could have a key role in ensuring that spending bills have pro-life protections intact.

However, Manchin is joined on the committee by Republican moderates Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), who both have an “F” rating from the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List. Although both have previously opposed legislation to codify the Hyde Amendment—the No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion Act—they have in the past supported spending bills with Hyde provisions as part of the status quo.

The “status quo,” however, is fast changing on Capitol Hill, and both senators could accede to Democratic clamors to pass spending bills without pro-life protections. Both pro-life and pro-abortion groups will be working hard to bring Murkowski and Collins to their side of the abortion funding debate.

And other pro-life rules could be permanently at risk in the new Senate Appropriations Committee.

The Mexico City Policy, for instance, bars taxpayer funding of foreign NGOs that provide or promote abortions. The Trump administration’s “Protect Life Rule” curbed funding of abortion providers through the Title X program, which provides grants for family planning clinics for low-income clients.

Both policies–which are enacted or repealed by presidential administrations–could be permanently repealed by Congress. Senate Democrats have sought to do exactly this in recent years by attaching amendments to must-pass spending bills.

While these “poison pill” amendments ultimately failed in the Senate Appropriations Committee, Democrats will now have control of the committee, and may find two sympathetic Republicans in Murkowski and Collins.

Health care legislation could also be an opportunity for new taxpayer funding of abortion coverage in public health plans.

When Democrats bring up health care proposals—whether they include an expansion of the Affordable Care Act, or a “public option”—many subsidized health plans could fund abortion-on-demand.

Thus, while Manchin has publicly supported the Hyde Amendment, he and other Senate moderates will have to endure the stress test of voting on health care and spending legislation with possible pro-abortion provisions–that don’t necessarily repeal the amendment itself.

Ultimately, pro-lifers will be on the defensive in 2021 while preparing for a possible House majority in 2022. How altered the political landscape will be, however, remains to be seen.


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34 Comments

  1. Sleezy Murkowski and Collins will fit the Dems needs for promoting their pro abortion policies. I do not think Manchin will play a role. It’s not looking good for unborn babies with the Dems in control.

    • I hope Manchin does the right thing.
      West VA has a long history with the Democrat Party, but most West VA folks are decent & don’t embrace feticide.
      If the Democrats get serious about revoking 2nd Amendment rights you’ll probably see a mass exodus of West Virginians from that party.

  2. As for me, I’m tired of all this wasted effort. God didn’t do anything to prevent Biden and the Democrats from controlling the federal government. It’s on him. I’m not going to write to my representatives. I’m not going to donate to prolife legislative efforts. I’m not going to lift a finger. If God hates abortion and wants it gone, let him do some work to end it. We were doing fine and making progress for the past four years. Now all that hard work has been for nothing. Same with what the Democrats will do about transgenderism. I’m over trying to fight. Not worth it. Waste of time and effort to try to stop it. Look at all the phony “Catholics” in the federal government who are going to enact the most anti-Catholic immoral legislation in decades. And you’re asking me to fight? Nope. I’m done. I know when the game’s lost.

    • I say let the likes of Cardinal Tobin, Cardinal Gregory, Cardinal Cupich, Bishop McElroy, and the their ilk … let them lead the fight. They now have their “man of character” in the white house; they now have their beloved democrat party in charge of everything … let’s see how the USCCB, led by these partisan democrat shepherds, will make progress in protecting the unborn, preserving religious liberty, and ensuring freedom of speech and exercise of religion. They’ll all roll over like a love-starved puppy at the feet of its cruel master,: the democrat party. Josh, God can’t do a thing with Church leaders who are hacks for a party that is hell-bent on destroying the Church. These “bishops” are nothing more than hirelings for the very elements of our culture that disdain faith, especially the Catholic Church. And sadly, the pope has their backs.

    • Josh,
      Don’t blame it on God. This is exactly what the evil one wants you to do. A former priest from my parish once said “trust and perseverence”. Prayer, and the Sacrament of Mercy, and the Eucharist can transform your life! Get a spiritual director if you can. Hang in there, Josh!
      God bless you!

      • I feel like I’ve just been playing Whack-A-Mole or Three Card Monty or I’m Charlie Brown and Lucy has yanked the football away again before I get to kick it. And like someone pointed out, this is on the Church bishops. If they don’t care, why should I go out of my way?

        • Why should you go out of your way if the Bishops don’t care?
          Because they don’t care – so now it’s up to us.

    • Josh, we are His workers. His hands and feet. I share your frustration, but we can’t give up. I hope once the high emotions of this bitter loss settle, that you will change your mind and continue to fight the good fight. Peace.

    • Josh: In so many ways I hear you. Have been saying rosary’s etc for a better outcome. The Catholic, so to speak, Dems who support abortion that are now in control are frightening. I have been reading some Catholic history and if you go back to the period of between 400 to 1,000 you think how did the Catholic Church survive.

      Anyways as frustrated as I am, wondering why God has not heard all the ardent prayers, I will continue to pray for life and our country. I will also pray that I don’t give up. I remember a sermon a while back where the priest focused on the theme that “God is God, we are not”. So end the end, I must recognize God’s providence and again pray for the graces to keep on praying. So as frustrated as you seem to be, please don’t give up; continue to ask God for graces you need to continue praying and trust in Him in this very challenging time.

      • We can’t blame God, nor assume he did not hear our prayers. His ways are not our ways. Did we not just celebrate the mystery of the Incarnation which happened in a dark time under a wicked ruler? Imagine if the faithful had said, “forget it, I’m done. God let Herod and these Romans rule”….Yet at that very moment, hidden from the wicked and powerful, God indeed did continue His great work to our benefit. Don’t worry about Biden and who controls the Senate, who are they compared to Our Lord? He will work it all out. We vote for what is good, we work for what is good, we pray, we trust. Be faithful and don’t worry.

  3. We are called to be faithful, in season and out. I would add that all of the folks who voted for this pro-abortion leadership have an added measure of responsibility to ensure they speak out and act to promote prolife policy and discourage pro-abortion policy during the next four years, lest they risk becoming implicitly guilty of cooperation with a very grave evil.

  4. Not to worry people! We now have the poster couple of the WHOLE Most Holy Catholic church! Biden and Pelosi will surely use their Catholic upbringing, faith, and strict dedication to Jesus Christ to overturn this murderous procedure. I’m sure they were waiting for the right moment when they have complete power to overturn Roe. I can see now why the Catholic leaders never excommunicated them…..in their vast knowledge, wisdom and insight, they kept silent for this grand and glorious moment. Glory and praise to the Catholic leaders!!

    • There has never been a greater threat to the Catholic Church from the power of government than will exist at noon on January 20.

      • Agreed. They will shut down the church soon enough, like in China. Their rules or the highway, and the Bishops will cave again.Some states never reopened their churches. Telling them who can enter, sending “checkers” to make sure rules are followed. No singing by their dictate. Like Nazis. Disgusting, and so are those who voted for them.

      • Have courage. Do not lose heart. Trust in God. He has been and is working. The game is NOT lost. Wait and see what is going to happen within a fortnight.
        Rom. 8: 31

  5. Personally, I think we should work to ease women’s fears of pregnancy and provide alternatives to abortion. Make pregnancy care accessible and inexpensive. Make it more desirable to have a baby rather than killing it. Let’s work to make adoption good alternative to killing a baby.

    I sort of agree with Josh…working with the Government is like just spinning our wheels. Having to depend on a certain Party (which has turn-coat members) to “win” with is futile. Let’s change hearts and promote the love of life. Don’t give up on that.

  6. The game may appear to be lost as the atheist materialist over population alarmist globalist have been able to strike the Shepherd, while providing that he be placed in lockdown and be censored, and replacing him with a pope who is anti Pope and not in communion with Christ, and thus with every other validly elected Pope.

    Christ assures us that the Gates of Hell will not prevail, but as to whether or not, Christ will find Faith on Earth when He returns, that is our responsibility.

    “Blessed are those called to The Wedding Supper Of The Lamb.”

    Pray for our Holy Father, Benedict, who, no doubt, is in lockdown on account of all the wolves.

  7. Josh, God did act in the “miracle” election of Donald J. Trump as President in 2016, defeating the unanimous projected winner, pro-abortion Hilary Clinton. He did so to give Catholic Democrats (who voted for her 48% to 45% for Trump according to Johnstown University extensive study) a 4 year reprieve to learn to vote according to their professed faith over their political identity.. The results of the 2020 election demonstrate those Catholics didn’t learn a thing, nor have their shepherds. So, here we are, just finishing up the most pro-life Presidential incumbency and Congress ever, which was on the verge of putting in place a Supreme Court and federal courts that would overturn Roe v. Wade; protect our constitutional right to freedom-of-religion; and start getting rulings overturning the legalizing of weirdness that has taken over gender terminology, and the word “marriage.” Personally, I think this election was to give those Catholics one last chance to live their professed faith before He returns Jesus to earth once again. Now, with this total takeover of the United States by the anti-God Democrat Party, Catholic Democrats and their shepherds’ salvation are at stake. They pray for, standing before Jesus in the Holy Eucharist in every Mass, “God’s will be done on earth.” This is in the only prayer Jesus ever taught us. They also are not obeying God’s “Greatest Commandment,” which is to love God with all our heart, all are soul, and all our MIND” (my emphasis). They are also not obeying the “Second Greatest Commandment” to “Love our neighbor as our self.” God’s greatest gift is the gift of life. How are Catholic Democrats obeying the First Great Commandment when they willingly endorse with their names and votes the only political organization responsible for keeping abortion legal? How are voting-age Catholics loving their neighbor, the most innocent and helpless neighbor of all, the unborn, by voting to elect the pro-abortion party candidates? Jesus was asked, “Who will be in Heaven?” He said, “Those who do the will of My Father, in Heaven.” How are those Catholic Democrats doing the will of God in heaven by willingly supporting the Democrat Party on earth? How are their Shepherds doing God’s will in heaven by allowing their sheep to act on their political identity instead of their professed faith when voting?

  8. Still believe, I think the win of Biden shows that the state sanctioned “false” Catholic Church is now dominant. The true Catholic Church in Amertca has been sidelined. We true Cathlics will now be kept out of the public square. I am waiting to hear the name the false church will begin to use for themselves. After VatI they called them selves the Old Catholics. It is now post VatII.

    • Sadly, I think you are right, Diane. That is why I think we should all be prepared for the return of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

  9. This point is relatively pointless. An executive order could easily stop abortion funding. The executive branch is tasked to execute the law, so it can refuse to execute it. Funding abortion (a.k.a. unborn child MURDER) is unjust and unconstitutional.

    Unfortunately, the opportunity for this to happen appears to have almost vanished. Trump could make a short term effort. At least it might make the news and then people could pressure the new president. There is always the possibility that the new president will be “knocked off his horse.” Only God knows, but it seems as though a similar event would need to occur. The only possible remotely good thing is that the new president will “identify as” a Catholic. Of course, that doesn’t go for much nowadays as most “Catholics” (56%) support unborn baby murder.

    It should be obvious but it must be remembered that morality isn’t determined by public opinion.

  10. Contraception, people. Contraception. Ignoring how contraception poisons the pro-life community specifically (and Church at large) in its fight against abortion makes as much sense as ignoring the crack in the furnace that leaks carbon monoxide into the home. Opening a window to get fresh air simply will.not.do. It will not be enough. The crack must be fixed.
    .
    Do not believe me? Check out Janet Smith’s Contraception, Why not. Or New Perspectives on Contraception by Donald DeMarco. (Onemoresoul.com has many resources.) The article Contraception is Creeping Death by Anthony Zimmerman can be located quite easily with a web search.
    .
    Why do people who pray, pray, pray to end abortion never seem to take seriously the Papal admonition that contraception is “shameful and intrinsically viscious.” (Casti Connubii No. 54).
    .
    Contraception has two Encyclicals devoted to it; abortion does not. That should also say something. Do not put much faith in the Church’s dusty teachings? Planned Parenthood loves contraception–it does not in any way hurt their bloody abortion business model. It is a fundamental part of it.
    .
    The heretical teaching that contraception may be used “according to Christian priciples” (Anglican Lambeth Conference 1930) is less than 100 years old. Look how far we have fallen.

    • Kathryn, you are so, so, right. Pastors rarely, if ever, speak about this. Can it be that they don’t want to “offend” their flock with the truth? Or fear a loss of donations?

      • It is not just pastors–I assume you mean priests/bishops here, but some Protestant and non-denominational ministers have figured it out.
        .
        Pro-life organizations–what could be called Big Pro-life–are guilty of silence on the issue as well; even Catholic ones tend not to push the issue too much.
        .
        The reason is simple: as far as the vast majority of the population is concerned, contraception is fine. Big Pro-life is a business just like Big Abortion, and frankly, the Church. Money needs to be collected (either in donations or sales of goods/services) and salaries paid out.
        .
        Very few people are truly interested in having more than three children and abstaining from procreative activities when they “finish” with their family size.
        .
        And I personally am very skeptical that the majority of people are truly interested in banning abortion during the 1st trimester, or if the “fetus is defective.” Maybe 2nd or 3rd trimester, but not the 1st.
        .
        So I think contraception tends to get overlooked because of monetary concerns. It would appear, however, God isn’t so willing.

        • Kathryn,
          Good morning!
          From what I’m seeing, many people don’t even want to get married these days, much less have more than 3 children.
          South Korea just counted more deaths than births for the first time.
          I read that a third of young people in Japan have never had any sexual experience. Morally of course that’s not a bad thing but if I remember correctly that age group went up to 30 or so. That’s when their parents and grandparents would have been married with children.
          Contraception is definitely a part of the problem but there’s something else going on too. I’m guessing technology use plays a role in it.

          • MrsCracker:
            .
            I have posted this several times on various websites. I think it is worth consideration, even though a bit dated, but it tends to be quite damning of the Church’s current preferred method of taking care of the elderly: social security systems.
            .
            https://mises.org/library/making-kids-worthless-social-securitys-contribution-fertility-crisis
            .
            People get very nervous about discussing economics, as if it were all just 401Ks and the stock market and treating people like cogs in a wheel. But honesly, economics is really about people and the choices they make and why they might make them. At least that is what it seems to me.
            .
            In addition to what Juurikaala writes, I’ve observed that while a few people are quite content to do a job that doesn’t really exist, or exists on very small level, with little to do, and no creativity about it, most likely aren’t. Most people want to do something and what that something to be “worthy.” I think the modern day role of “mom/housewife” has taken a huge hit–courtesy of all the labor saving devices, indoor plumbing, and (compulsory) public educational systems that take the children away, and the taxes/regulations, seen and unseen, that eat into our paychecks.
            .
            Woman end up working outside the home because 1) there is no longer such a need to stay home and because of that 2) women have fewer children.

    • In 1948 the defeated minority at the Anglican communion Lambeth Conference was still telling it like it is:

      “It is, to say the least, suspicious that the age in which contraception has won its way is not one which has been conspicuously successful in managing its sexual life. Is it possible that, by claiming the right to manipulate his physical processes in this manner, man may, without knowing it, be stepping over the boundary between the world of Christian marriage and what one might call the world of Aphrodite, the world of sterile eroticism? [e.g., now gay “marriage” and mandatory, anti-binary gender theory!]” (Cited in Cardinal Wright, “Reflections on the Third Anniversary of a Controverted Encyclical,” St. Louis: Central Bureau Press, 1971.)

  11. While I was reading most of the comments, I was struck by lack of acknowledgement of God’s presence in our world. Most seem to suggest that a mere “man” is in charge of this world. This is a sign of lack of faith in God which is common among those who are not familiar with the Bible, the power of the Holy Spirit and trust in God. These bad things happen so you put trust completely in God.(Psalm 9-10) Do you not know that nothing happens without God’s plan ? You also seem to overlook the fact that the present Government was promoting a gun culture despite school massacres and death penalty, as shown by how many have recently been executed by lethal injection where a life sentence is an option. Moreover, the Scriptures are clear that we must love our enemies and pray for them (Matthew 25:40). God’s love is illogical, like Jesus’s Crucifixion for all of us as sinners (Romans 5:18). The Scriptures, it is clear that Jesus never condemned sinners (Luke 5:32) but He asked them to repent and follow Him. God’s Mercy is endless. The Messiah is in charge of all our lives. Contrast that with St John who was not shy to tell even a King Herod that he (Herod) was a sinner. I do believe if you truly believe in God you never give up praying for conversion of even those we consider the worst sinners(Proverbs 24:7). Most of Europe including Ireland and most recent Argentina, have passed abortion laws, a sign of our times, atheism and support of a death culture. I truly believe if one is Prolife, you fight to preserve life in all its stages: unborn baby, youth, adult and elderly and life to the end. Yet, I detect the tendency to denounce self proclaimed sinners and completely absolve leadership that has presided over a 250, 000 COVID-19 deaths due to complacency and disregard of human life by refusing to follow basic public health measures and encouraging others towards that end. Almost all countries in Western Europe offer various forms of free access to medical care at the point of access eg. the NHS in the UK and to my knowledge is not regarded as a Communist country. I think we all have a role to play as Catholics to support young girls choose life. There is only one life afterall and loving Christ , who is the source of life should be a starting point. Let us help everyone to know Christ. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger (Ephesians: 4:26).Love never fails, for God so loved the world that He gave His only son that everyone may not perish but have eternal life.

  12. Margaret,
    I’m not sure what you mean by “gun culture” but we have a 2nd Amendment that guarantees rights which can’t be taken away from law abiding citizens because of the actions of a mentally ill shooter.
    Ive observed how the media will grab a tragedy to further a particular agenda but it’s less about gun culture and more about a serious conversation needed on mental health and privacy laws.

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