Washington D.C., Feb 26, 2021 / 11:02 am MT (CNA).- The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is opposing the COVID relief package currently under consideration in the House, over its lack of pro-life protections.
In a digital campaign, the USCCB wrote that although the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 “addresses the needs of many vulnerable people related to the pandemic,” it lacks pro-life “Hyde” protections against funding of abortions and abortion coverage.
The Hyde Amendment is a longstanding legislative provision that prohibits the use of taxpayer funding for elective abortions. If Hyde language is excluded from the bill, that would erase this limitation and allow for possible increased funding of abortion.
As a candidate for president, Biden reversed his previous support of the Hyde Amendment, saying he now supports taxpayer-funded abortion. House Democratic leaders have also said they intended to repeal the policy in 2021.
The House is scheduled to vote on the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 on Friday evening. The $1.9 trillion package includes funding for vaccinations, testing and tracing, stimulus checks to families, and tax credits for paid sick and family leave.
The USCCB expressed its disappointment, however, noting that previous COVID bills provided economic relief and health care spending with pro-life provisions intact.
“Unfortunately, unlike previous COVID relief bills, this bill appropriates billions of taxpayer dollars that are not subject to longstanding, bi-partisan pro-life protections that are needed to prevent this funding from paying for abortions,” their website stated.
The USCCB added it is “communicating to Congress its strong opposition to any taxpayer funding of abortion as part of this legislation,” and is urging Catholics and pro-life Americans to do the same.
“Your voice is critically needed today to tell your representatives in Congress to support amendments that prevent abortion funding and to work for their inclusion in the final bill,” the conference stated.
In a statement posted to Twitter on Thursday, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) said she and some of her fellow Republican lawmakers are attempting to include the pro-life protections in the bill, “to FIX this to reflect Congress’s long bipartisan history of supporting Hyde.”
🚨🚨🚨 NEWS: Unfortunately, House Democrats did not include Hyde Protections in the $1.9 trillion reconciliation bill. @virginiafoxx, @RepWalorski, and I are leading to FIX this to reflect Congress’s long bipartisan history of supporting Hyde. #prolife #SaveHyde pic.twitter.com/HTSo4tdjs5
— CathyMcMorrisRodgers (@cathymcmorris) February 25, 2021
The congresswoman’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a statement, Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, also argued that the Hyde protections should be included in the final bill.
“At a time when our country is mourning the deaths of 500,000 Americans, very little (less than 10%) of the misnamed COVID relief package actually goes towards combatting the pandemic,” Mancini said in a written statement. “Instead, pro-abortion Democrats are using this bill to push through billions of dollars in subsidies for abortions, not only here in the U.S. but also abroad.”
The Senate is using the procedure of reconciliation to pass the legislation needing only a simple majority, Mancini said, “because they would not otherwise have the votes needed to do away with popular pro-life riders that protect Americans from funding the life-ending procedure.”
“In fact, consistent polling shows that most Americans oppose their tax dollars funding abortion both here and abroad. So much for unity,” Mancini said.
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