Legislative Update April, 19, 2021

Friends,

 

This past week, a discharge petition on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Act was filed. Also, the House voted on the Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R.7) which contained pro-life concerns. The House is also expected to take up D.C. statehood on Tuesday. In addition, there were several anti-life administrative actions taken, discussed below. Also, Senate action could occur at any time on several measures, listed below.

 

  1. Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act - Discharge Petition filed Wednesday April 14. ACTION ALERT
  2. H.R. 7 Paycheck Fairness Act - pro-life implications
  3. D.C. “Statehood” - House to vote Tuesday
  4. Biden Administrative Actions - Chemical Abortion, Title X, fetal tissue research
  5. The So-Called “Equality Act.”  ACTION ALERT
  6. H.R. 1, the So-Called "For the People Act of 2021" (restrictions on free speech).  ACTION ALERT

 

 

117th Congressional Scorecards can be found at: http://cqrcengage.com/nrlc/scorecards

 

  1. Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act

 

The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (H.R. 619), sponsored by Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.), would enact an explicit requirement that a baby born alive during an abortion must be afforded “the same degree” of care that would apply “to any other child born alive at the same gestational age,” including transportation to a hospital. The bill also empowers women with a right to sue their abortionists and others for harm caused by violations of the act. National Right to Life strongly supports the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. The companion bill in the U.S. Senate is S. 123, sponsored by Senator Ben Sasse (R-Neb.).

 

On Wednesday April 14, Rep. Kat Cammack (R-Fla.) filed a discharge petition on H.R. 619. Members lined up to sign and set a record for first-day signatures on a discharge petition, with 202 members signing on the first day. At this time of this writing, 208 members have signed, and more are expected to do so.

 

An updated list of signatures can be found here: https://clerk.house.gov/DischargePetition/20210414?CongressNum=117

 

If a discharge petition is signed by a majority of House members (218), it would force a vote on the House floor, even over the objection of pro-abortion Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal.). In the 117th Congress, there are currently 212 Republicans.

 

National Right to Life has posted an action alert to urge members, who have not yet done so, to sign the petition.

Action Alert - https://cqrcengage.com/nrlc/action

 

NRLC’s April 14th press release can be found here:

https://www.nrlc.org/communications/discharge-petition-filed-born-alive/

 

NRLC’s April 15th press release can be found here: https://www.nrlc.org/uncategorized/born-alive-discharge-petition-record-set/

 

 

2. Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R.7)

 

On April 15th, the House voted on the Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 7). While the legislation is meant to address potential discrimination regarding the gender pay gap, there were last-minute amendments to the legislation that could be construed to require employers to cover elective abortion in their healthcare benefits. 

 

H.R. 7 states that it constitutes discrimination to provide disparate wages based on sex, and the legislation creates more opportunities to seek remedies for those challenging compensation. Historically, when Congress has addressed discrimination based on sex, rules of construction have been added to prevent requiring funding of abortion. Since there is no rule of construction that would make this legislation abortion-neutral, it is likely that H.R. 7 could be used to sue employers for a lack of elective abortion coverage.

 

Because of this change, National Right to Life opposed the bill and included the roll call vote in our scorecard of key pro-life votes of the 117th Congress. On this vote (House roll call no. 108) 216 Democrats and 1 Republican (Rep. Fitzpatrick - Pa.) voted in favor and 210 Republicans voted against it (NRLC position). Two (2) members did not vote.

 

NRLC's scorecard advisory can be found here:

https://www.nrlc.org/federal/ahc/nrlc-letter-to-u-s-house-of-representatives-urging-opposition-to-the-paycheck-fairness-act-h-r-7/

 

A vote can occur at a time of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) choosing. Schumer has used a special shortcut procedure ("Rule 14") to prevent referral of H.R. 7 to committee, which means that it is available for floor action at any time. We will keep you apprised of developments.

 

 

3. D.C. Statehood

 

The House is expected to vote tomorrow, April 20, 2021 on H.R. 51. If D.C. were to become a state, the predictable result will be tax funding of hundreds (if not more) of elective abortions in D.C. annually. For more on constitutional concerns over granting D.C. statehood, see our scorecard letter in opposition to the House of Representatives here: https://www.nrlc.org/federal/ahc/nrlc-letter-to-u-s-representatives-urging-opposition-to-h-r-51-d-c-statehood/

 

 

4. Biden Administrative Actions - Chemical Abortion, Title X, fetal tissue research

 

Fetal Tissue Research:

On Friday, April 16, 2021, the Biden Administration's National Institutes of Health (NIH) reversed important Trump-era fetal tissue requirements.

 

The NIH announced that it will no longer convene the Human Fetal Tissue Research Ethics Advisory Board.

 

Under the Trump-era rule, all extramural research involving fetal tissue was to undergo review by an independent advisory board.

 

In 2019, HHS had announced that it would no longer use fetal tissue in internal research and would promote alternatives to such research. In 2020, under the Trump administration, any proposed fetal tissue research was reviewed by an independent NIH Human Fetal Tissue Research Ethics Advisory Board.

 

In addition, The Washington Post reported that the Biden Administration also sent an email to internal scientific and clinical directors stating that intramural research will also no longer be prevented from using fetal tissue.

 

You can view NRLC’S press release here:

https://www.nrlc.org/communications/national-institute-of-health-reverses-trump-era-fetal-tissue-requirements-will-no-longer-convene-nih-human-fetal-tissue-research-ethics-advisory-board/

 

Title X:

On April 15, 2021, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a proposed rule on the Title X family planning program to roll back pro-life protections put in place by the Trump Administration. The proposed rule will be open for comment until May 17, 2021.

 

The proposed rule largely mirrors the Clinton Administration's Title X Rule but also includes some key changes. 

 

The Biden Administration's Proposed Rule will again allow Title X grantees to be “co-located” with abortion providers. Permitting co-location essentially enables grantees like Planned Parenthood to bring women into their facilities and sell them abortions. 

 

The Biden Administration's proposed rule requires grantees to offer abortion counseling and referrals to pregnant clients. While the preamble notes that grantees with conscience objections will not be required to counsel and refer for abortion, this exception is not present in the rule itself. The rule requires all grantees to provide abortion referral and counseling, in violation of the federal Weldon Amendment (which prohibits the federal government from discriminating against health care entities that do not refer for abortions).

 

The Biden Administration’s proposed rule also removes requirements that encouraged parental involvement for minors seeking Title X services.

 

In previous Democrat administrations, the Title X program was identified as Planned Parenthood's largest source of discretionary funding. Democrats also recently added an additional $50 million to the Title X program in the COVID-19 reconciliation bill.

 

Chemical Abortion:

On April 12, 2021, the Biden Administration effectively suspended the federal Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) requirement that chemical abortion drugs be obtained in-person for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. This will permit women to receive these dangerous drugs by mail. 

 

For further analysis, see an article by Randall K. O’Bannon, Ph.D., NRL Director of Education & Research here:

https://www.nationalrighttolifenews.org/2021/04/fda-announces-suspension-of-regulations-on-ru-486-authorizes-web-cam-prescription-and-mailing-of-abortion-pills-to-womens-homes/amp/

 

 

5. The So-Called Equality Act

 

In addition to other issues, H.R. 5 poses a significant pro-life threat. It amends the 1964 Civil Rights Act, adding language that could be used to make abortions more available, expand taxpayer funding of abortion, and weaken conscience protections for health care providers opposed to participating in abortions. 

 

The so-called Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act by defining “sex” to include “pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition.” It is well established that abortion will be regarded as a “related medical condition.” Laws that protect unborn children or limit abortion funding could constitute discrimination on the basis of sex.

 

Historically, when Congress has addressed discrimination based on sex, rules of construction have been added to prevent requiring funding of abortion or nullifying conscience laws. Since no rule of construction is included in the Equality Act, National Right to Life opposes the bill.

 

We expect this bill to receive priority and a vote can occur at a time of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) choosing. Schumer has used a special shortcut procedure ("Rule 14") to prevent referral of H.R. 5 to committee, which means that it is available for floor action at any time. We will keep you apprised of developments.

 

Senate ACTION ALERT:  https://cqrcengage.com/nrlc/action

 

The House passed H.R. 5 by a vote of 224-206, on February 25, 2021 (House Roll Call No. 39). The bill was supported by 221 Democrats and 3 Republicans. It was opposed by 206 Republicans. Two (2) Republicans did not vote. The three Republicans voting in favor of the bill were Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), John Katko (N.Y.), Tom Reed (N.Y.).

 

NRLC’s scorecard advisory can be found here: https://www.nrlc.org/federal/equality-act/nrlc-letter-to-u-s-senators-urging-opposition-to-h-r-5-the-equality-act/

 

6. S.1/H.R. 1, the So-Called "For the People Act of 2021" (restrictions on free speech)

 

S.1, the so-called "For the People Act of 2021," is intended to make it as difficult as possible for corporations (including nonprofit, issue-oriented corporations such as NRLC) to spend money to communicate with the public about the actions of federal officeholders, by applying an array of restrictions on ads, as well as requirements that violate the privacy rights of donors.

 

On Wednesday March 24, 2021, the Senate Rules Committee held a contentious hearing on S.1 (H.R. 1) in the Rules Committee. Notably, the leaders of both parties, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), spoke before the Committee. The focus was mainly on changes to the state election process, but many spoke on the chilling effect on free speech. 

 

All Senate Democrats (with the exception of Sen. Joe Manchin-W. Va.) have co-sponsored the legislation.

 

NRLC expressed its strong opposition and intention to score a vote to the bill in a letter sent to members of the House of Representatives on March 1, 2021. (https://www.nrlc.org/federal/freespeech/national-right-to-life-urges-opposition-to-h-r-1-the-so-called-for-the-people-act-of-2021/

 

The overriding purpose of the legislation is to discourage, as much as possible, disfavored groups (such as NRLC) from communicating about officeholders, by exposing citizens who support such efforts to harassment and intimidation, and by smothering organizations in layer on layer of record keeping and reporting requirements, all backed by the threat of civil and criminal sanctions. 

 

We will keep you apprised of developments.

Senate ACTION ALERT:  https://cqrcengage.com/nrlc/action

 

Press Release on the House vote is here: https://www.nrlc.org/communications/h-r-1-would-violate-the-first-amendment-and-suppress-free-speech/

 

National Right to Life Committee opposed passage of H.R. 1, which passed the House, 220-210, on March 3, 2021 (House Roll Call No. 62). The bill was supported by 220 Democrats. It was opposed by 209 Republicans and 1 Democrat. Two (2) Republicans did not vote. 

WHEN
April 21, 2021 at 6pm - 9pm