As we are sending this email to you, there is a crucial debate underway in Congress as some courageous pro-life congressman attempt to prevent federal funding of most abortions.
Since we seek to understand this process and act accordingly, we should establish in clear and precise ways the right of the taxpayer to not be forced to pay for abortion or any other immoral actions of government, like sterilization campaigns in poor countries. But more important than protecting taxpayers' rights is protecting the rights of the unborn. The purpose of a ban on federal funding of abortion is to diminish an incentive towards abortion. This should go together with privately funded programs that would encourage duly married couples to be generous with life.
A government has the right to tax its citizens to promote the common good, but it does not have the right to extract funds from taxpayers to promote the common evil. As a consequence, abortion and many other immoral actions should not receive any government funds. A society that provides financial support for immorality becomes co-author of those immoral actions. We know well enough from history that if a society becomes promoter and supporter of immorality, sooner or later it will start reaping the bitter fruits.
It is an established fact that a nation teaches its citizens about the rightness or wrongness of a given behavior through its laws. That is, laws not only regulate, they also instruct. So if the government finances abortions, the clear message sent is that abortion is a right, that one has the right to kill an unborn child whenever one chooses. Instead, if the government withdraws all financial support for abortion the message that it is giving is that abortion is an evil that should be avoided.
In a 2004 statement, the ACLU stated, "The congressional bans on abortion funding impose a particular religious or moral viewpoint on those women who rely on government-funded health care. Providing funding for abortion does not encourage or compel women to have abortions, but denying funding compels many women to carry their pregnancies to term." Against this position we have to affirm first, that there is sufficient scientific evidence to demonstrate that life starts at conception or the biological beginning of the human being, so when we withdraw funds from abortion we are protecting the most basic human right which is life and we are not imposing religious values. Second, when the taxpayer is forced to pay for abortions he is obliged to act against his rightfully held beliefs and as a consequence his rights are gravely eroded. Third, we have to understand that there is basic incoherence to the position of those who defend the right to kill babies with public funds. As Richard Doerflinger of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops told a subcommittee of the US House of Representatives on February 8th, it is "not 'pro-choice' to force others to fund a procedure to which they have fundamental objections." This lack of coherence on the part of pro-aborts should not surprise us; they often suppress the liberties of others in the promotion of their particular understanding of liberty.
It is beyond dispute that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) will lead to the use of tax dollars to pay for abortion as the non-partisan Congressional Research Service has stated, contrary to former Speaker Pelosi's assertion stating that PPACA will not lead to government funded abortions are not precisely correct.
For the reasons presented above we should support the following bills:
- No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey, the chairman of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus. The proposed legislation would make the Hyde amendment permanent, which prohibits the funding of elective abortions, except in cases of rape, incest, or threat to the life of the mother, through any program funded by the annual Labor, Health, and Human Services Appropriations Act. It is particularly valuable that this act includes a "Prohibition on Tax Benefits Relating to Abortion." Under this provision, "no credit shall be allowed under the internal revenue laws ... with respect to amounts paid or incurred for a health benefits plan (including premium assistance) that includes coverage of abortion." A tax credit is similar to a government subsidy. This bill would require the IRS to "police the contents" of everyone's insurance coverage and "recoup" tax reductions from persons that contract insurance that covers abortions.
- The Protect Life Act (H.R. 358) that was introduced on January 20, 2011, by Reps. Joseph Pitts (R-PA) and Dan Lipinski (D-IL). It has the objective to put the PPACA in line with policies on abortion and conscience rights existing in other federal health programs. This bill is intended to: ensure that all PPACA funds are covered by the Hyde Amendment; exclude federal funds from subsidizing health plans that cover abortions beyond the Hyde exceptions, so that PPACA will follow the norms that apply to other federal health insurance programs; uphold rights of conscience related to abortion, ensuring that governmental entities receiving federal funds under PPACA will not discriminate against health care providers who decline involvement in abortion; and close a loophole in PPACA's non-preemption clause, so that state laws restricting abortion or protecting conscience rights will not be preempted, and states will not be able to override PPACA's provisions ensuring that health plans without elective abortion are available in each state.
- The Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act, sponsored by pro-life Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, which would ensure tax dollars are withdrawn from the abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood under Title X family planning funds. It is of fundamental importance to cut all funding to the organization that has been the principal culprit behind the killing of millions of little children.
Taking into account the limitations of the Hyde Amendment, we should support these bills applying John Paul II's Evangelium Vitae (73), which teaches that it is good to support the passage of a more restrictive law, aimed at limiting the number of authorized abortions, in place of a more permissive law already passed. So when it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law, and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality. This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects.
Our friends at Population Research Institute recently reported that U.S. taxpayer money is being used in Rwanda to fund a campaign to sterilize 700,000 men. The government of this African country is claiming that this is a voluntary campaign, but there is evidence that abusive pressures and coercion are going to be used to reach this objective, as has occurred in the past. Even if these sterilizations were to be totally voluntary, it is totally objectionable that taxpayer money should be used to fund this immoral program that attacks human right to bodily and psychological integrity.
We make these comments with the firm hope that one day abortion and many other immoral practices sponsored or at least permitted by the government, will be totally reversed, sincerely expecting that one day the rights of the unborn and the rights of the taxpayers will be duly protected.