As the New Year edges closer, conservative and religious policy experts have established anti-abortion legislation as its top agenda item for the 112th Congress set to be confirmed in January 2011.
More specifically, legislative and policy experts from pro-life and pro-family groups are looking to stop abortion funding.
Many pro-family groups have backed down off of calls to repeal the health care reform bill and converged behind efforts to expressly prohibit taxpayer money from paying for abortion provider initiatives.
“One of the main things we’re going to be looking for is will congress make permanent the Hyde amendment which prevents [federal] funding of abortion,” said Ashley Horne, federal policy analyst for Focus on the Family’s policy affiliate Citizen Link.
The amendment brought forth by Republican Rep. Henry Hyde of Illinois was shot down during debate on the health care reform bill.
Now, the pro-life lobby has been working around the clock to stop federal funding for operations such as Planned Parenthood. The hard work has paid off with a new pro-life, Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The House leadership will also feature four pro-life members: Rep. John Boehner (Ohio) as speaker; Rep. Eric Cantor (Virginia) as majority leader; Rep. Kevin McCarthy (California) as majority whip; and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (Texas) as chairman of the House Conference.
Pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List lobbied hard for the election of the pro-life leadership and is expecting results in the coming year.
“We made major pro-life gains last month, but they mean absolutely nothing if we do not turn them into serious legislative gains for the unborn,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, said in a statement.
To that end, GOP Rep. Christ Smith (New Jersey) will co-sponsor the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act to install a government-wide prohibition on such funding. The bill would also seek to repeal provisions allowing for abortion funding in President Barack Obama’s health care reform bill.
Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) will also sponsor the Title 10 Abortion Provider Prohibition Act to ensure that Title 10 family planning programs do not send tax dollars to abortion organizations like Planned Parenthood.
Additionally, Tom McClusky, senior vice president of FRCAction shared that the Family Research Council would like for the House to move forward with a federal parental notification law so that minors cannot circumvent state laws by crossing a dividing line into another state.
He also expressed concern for the conscience regulation law which allows individual medical practitioners to abstain from aiding a procedure that would go against his/her moral conscious, such as abortion. The law, enacted by former President George W. Bush, is set to expire in March 2011, he noted.
“There’s a real threat there,” insisted McClusky.
Other issues on the radar of pro-family and pro-life groups is making Bush-era tax cuts permanent and protecting the Definition of Marriage Act.
Focus on the Family’s Horne acknowledged that there will be some obstacles moving forward, even with a GOP-led House. Democrats still hold the majority in the U.S. Senate. However, she expressed hope in Obama’s open invitation for compromise.
“If the president is willing to negotiate and be reasonable, … then I think we do have a good outlook going into the new Congress,” Horne said.
Still, Horne encourages values voters to “be vigilant” as the congress starts again in January.
“After a big win, … conservatives in general kind of feel like, ‘OK we have the [votes] that we need.’ We are just encouraging people to really be paying attention to what Congress is doing and to make sure that they are calling, emailing, [and]contacting their lawmakers,” she said.