April 7, 2014 — House lawmakers in three letters last week asked appropriators to include riders that would restrict funding for Planned Parenthood and undermine the federal contraceptive coverage rules, CQ Roll Call reports.
According to CQ Roll Call, the requests -- which target Planned Parenthood, the federal contraceptive coverage rules and the United Nation's Population Fund -- are "setting the stage" for a conflict with the Senate, which is controlled by the Democratic Party, in negotiations over fiscal year 2015 spending bills.
Letter on Refusal Language
In a letter sent Wednesday, more than 100 House lawmakers asked House Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee Chair Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), the top Democrat on the subcommittee, to include language from a bill (HR 940) by Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) in an appropriations measure.
Black's bill would allow individuals or employers to refuse to obtain or provide health insurance coverage for any service they oppose on moral or religious grounds. The bill also would boost protections for physicians, hospitals and other health care providers who refuse to provide abortion services.
The lawmakers wrote, "Nothing short of a full religious and moral exemption for both non-profit and for-profit entities will satisfy the demands of the Constitution and common sense."
Letter Targeting Planned Parenthood Funding
In a separate letter sent Friday, about 80 lawmakers also asked Kingston to include a provision in any spending measure that would "end taxpayer subsidies to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc., as well as their affiliates." According to the letter, Planned Parenthood receives about 45% of its annual revenue from public funds.
According to CQ Roll Call, current appropriations law prevents federal funding from being used to pay for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or when a woman's life is in danger.
The lawmakers wrote, "As Congress considers health care reforms under the pressure of rising costs, we firmly believe that organizations that both provide comprehensive health care and respect all life -- both the born and unborn -- are best equipped to offer the most effective health care services to those in need."
Letter on 'Global Gag' Rule, UNFPA
About 80 lawmakers in a third letter Friday asked Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas) -- chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs -- to include a provision that blocks U.S. funding to UNFPA and reinstates a provision known as the Mexico City policy (Attias, CQ Roll Call, 4/4). The policy, also known as the "global gag rule," blocks U.S. foreign aid to organizations that use their own money to offer abortion services or provide information about or referrals for abortion services. President Obama repealed the policy shortly after taking office in 2009 (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/14).
The lawmakers claimed that UNFPA "is known for its complicity in China's brutal one-child policy."
They also wrote, "Reinstating the Mexico City Policy would once again protect our international population control funds from use by foreign nongovernment organizations that promote and perform abortions."
They also asked Granger to set a funding cap rather than a funding floor for family planning and reproductive health services if the committee decides to appropriate money for those services (CQ Roll Call, 4/4).