Amendment to bar use of federal funds for abortions passes Senate

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., speaks in support of an amendment barring federal funds from being used to pay for abortions.
Baptist Press photo

Amendment to bar use of federal funds for abortions passes Senate

Opponents of taxpayer funding of abortion gained an encouraging victory in the U.S. Senate Aug. 10 when senators approved an amendment that bars federal funds from being used to pay for abortions.

During consideration of a budget resolution, senators approved in a 50-49 vote an amendment by Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, that blocks federal funding for abortions and blocks funding for government programs that discriminate against individual health care professionals or institutions that object to abortion.

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia provided the deciding vote for the measure. He joined all the Republicans who were present in the evenly divided chamber in support of Lankford’s amendment.

‘Foundation that protects life’

Southern Baptist public policy specialist Chelsea Sobolik described Lankford’s effort as “certainly helpful for the pro-life cause.”

“As lawmakers craft legislation, they should start from a foundation that protects life – something that has been a source of bipartisan agreement for decades,” said Sobolik, acting public policy director of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, in written comments. “This amendment restores that policy in this budget process.”

The ERLC urges the House of Representatives “to follow the Senate’s lead and ensure these important pro-life riders are part of the budget resolution,” she said.

The ERLC urged Senate leaders in a July 30 letter to restore long-standing, pro-life policies removed from spending bills by the House. The Democratic-controlled House had approved appropriations bills in late July that eliminated the Hyde Amendment and other measures that either prohibit federal funding of abortion or, as in the case of the Weldon Amendment, protect the conscience rights of pro-life health care workers and institutions.

The Hyde Amendment has barred federal funds in Medicaid and other programs from paying for abortions in every year since 1976. The Weldon Amendment has prohibited since 2004 government discrimination against pro-life health care providers and insurance plans.

‘Consistent with Hyde Amendment’

In a speech on the Senate floor before the vote, Lankford, a Southern Baptist, said his amendment would be consistent with the Hyde Amendment. Hyde “reflects a decades-long consensus that millions of Americans who profoundly are opposed to abortion should not be forced to pay for the taking of human lives of children or incentivize it with their taxpayer dollars,” he said.

“Millions of Americans of faith and of no faith know that the only difference between a child in the womb and outside the womb is time,” he said. “Just because they are smaller people doesn’t mean they should be any less protected by law.”

The Hyde Amendment – which includes exceptions for a threat to the mother’s life, rape and incest – has saved the lives of more than 2.4 million unborn children since its inception, according to an estimate in July 2020 by Michael New, veteran researcher and associate scholar of the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute.

Reprinted from Baptist Press (, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.