Good question. House conservatives had pushed hard to include statutory language to protect the rights of health-care professionals to decline participation in abortions, an issue that arose after the Obama administration largely declined to enforce the Weldon Amendment. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops had pushed hard to keep that rider attached to the omnibus bill, arguing that it was necessary to defend the dignity of pro-life health care workers.
Republican leadership traded it away … but for what? Not much, as Politico notes in a review of the horse-trading that produced the omnibus. Now the USCCB wants to know why:
“The failure of Congress to include the Conscience Protection Act in the 2018 omnibus appropriations bill is deeply disappointing. The CPA is an extraordinarily modest bill that proposes almost no change to existing conscience protection laws on abortion—laws that receive wide public and bi-partisan support. The CPA simply proposes to provide victims of discrimination with the ability to defend their rights in court to help ensure that no one is forced to participate in abortion. Those inside and outside of Congress who worked to defeat the CPA have placed themselves squarely into the category of extremists who insist that all Americans must be forced to participate in the violent act of abortion. We call on Congress not to give up until this critical legislation is enacted.”
It’s not the only disappointment that conservatives and pro-life voters will experience in this round of budgeting. Despite repeated promises by Republicans, the omnibus keeps subsidies for Planned Parenthood in place. That has the House Freedom Caucus steamed:
The bill faces pushback from conservatives in the House who argue that lawmakers are not being provided with enough time to review the bill.
“The policy proposals outlined in this $1.3 trillion spending bill are not consistent with what we told the American people we would do when they sent us to Washington. Many of the policies in the bill are in fact the opposite of what we promised. This bill barely provides for border security, yet continues to allow federal dollars to flow to sanctuary cities,” the House Freedom Caucus said in a statement. …
“It also fully funds grants that go to Planned Parenthood while making no changes to reduce Obamacare’s burdensome regulations on America’s families.”
About the only progress made on the pro-life front was an increase for abstinence education, which Politico reported as a two-thirds boost. Otherwise, Nancy Pelosi managed to force Paul Ryan to give up on all other efforts, including the CPA which is basically a statutory reiteration of the Weldon Amendment.
If the GOP can’t find the intestinal fortitude to defend even that much in a budget giveaway, then what can we rely on a pro-life party to deliver?