Democrats Invoke ‘Women’s Rights’ In Opposing Ban on Federal Funding of Abortions

March 4, 2011 - 6:33 AM

sheila jackson lee

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) spoke at the House Judiciary Committee mark-up session for the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, saying that she was offended by the idea that people opposed to the bill are in favor of killing children. ( Starr)

( – The debate at the mark-up session for the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act ended in a 23-14 vote on Thursday, sending the bill from committee to House leadership and its eventual debate on the floor of the House of Representatives.

But the four-hour session leading up to the vote was a contentious discussion with the Republicans focusing on the need to not force Americans to pay for abortions through taxation and the Democrats insisting any restriction on abortion reflects the GOP’s efforts to deny women’s rights.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) said the bill could deny women access to lifesaving health care.

“I would just like to say, you know, the idea that the men here on this committee have the right to tell women across the country and their husbands that the mom in the family has to die is just stunning to me,” Lofgren said. “It’s just a stunning amount of arrogance.”

When Republicans spoke about abortion ending a human life, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) took offense.

“First of all, I really take umbrage and offense for any suggestion that anyone who opposes this legislation wants to kill children,” Jackson Lee said, adding that she thought the legislation would endanger women’s lives.

But Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) said that abortion was a life-ending procedure. Chabot said that pro-life advocates believe that all children – born and unborn – should be afforded the right to life.

“We believe it is killing children when one has an abortion,” Chabot said.

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) challenged Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) about his belief that life begins at the moment of conception.

hank johnson

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) ( Starr)

“Well, this comes down to this issue of where does life begin, Mr. Franks,” Johnson said. “Life, I guess you would argue, begins at conception. Is that your argument?”

“That’s 101 Biology, Mr. Johnson,” Franks said.

Johnson said that some people might take that argument further to claim that sperm or an egg were the beginning of life because they could potentially create life.

“So if we decided we’re going to make it illegal for a man to get a vasectomy because we, as men, think that life begins at that point,” Johnson said. “What’s to stop us from doing that? If we want to decide that women cannot have their tubes tied because there’s a potential for life there. Where do we draw the line?”

But in his opening remarks, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the committee, said the issue was that taxpayers should not be forced to pay for abortions and the federal government should not play a role in promoting the procedure.

“While there are strong views on both sides of this issue, one thing is clear:  the federal funding of abortion will lead to more abortions,” Smith said. “The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act prohibits the federal funding of abortions and prohibits the use of fiscal policy to encourage or subsidize abortions.”

The legislation apparently would strengthen the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding of abortions as part of the annual appropriations for family planning programs through the Health and Human Services budget. The proposed bill also offers protections for health care professionals who are morally opposed to promoting or providing abortions.