What do funding the government and expanding obstructions to abortion have in common? Well, they shouldn’t have anything in common, except that abortion opponents have long used bills to fund the government as a means of imposing dangerous policy riders to restrict women’s access to abortion.
One of these harmful policy riders is the Weldon Amendment, which prevents the government from “discriminating” against health care entities that refuse for any reason to provide, cover, pay for, or refer for abortion. The Amendment was added as a policy rider to the Labor-HHS appropriations bill in 2004, and has been added to each subsequent appropriations act.
The Weldon Amendment interferes with women’s care when it involves abortion. And it has had a chilling effect on state and local governments and the federal government when they want to support women’s access to abortion.
But abortion opponents still aren’t satisfied. In recent years, some abortion opponents have pushed to not only make the Weldon Amendment permanent law, but also to expand the dangerous provision even further. And they are likely to continue those efforts this year. In fact, the Heritage Foundation, which just last week released its so-called “Blueprint for Balance: A Federal Budget for 2017,” includes a recommendation to expand the Weldon Amendment.
Across the country, we are facing unprecedented attacks on abortion. Tomorrow the Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments regarding a state law Texas passed in 2013 to shut down clinics. The effort to expand Weldon that the Heritage Foundation and other opponents are pushing is just yet another dangerous means to their end: i.e., making it difficult or actually impossible to get abortion care.
Abortion opponents that want to eliminate women’s access to safe, legal abortion don’t live in our shoes, don’t represent us, and don’t get to make our health care decisions for us. We should be eliminating the Weldon Amendment, not expanding it.
So we are turning the tables — and once we’re done, there isn’t going to be a Weldon Amendment to expand.