The head of a pro-life group is slamming the coronavirus relief bill passed by the United States House last week, contending that it amounts to a "slush fund" for the major abortion provider Planned Parenthood.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the pro-life group the Susan B. Anthony List, issued a statement Saturday in response to the House's passage of the "American Rescue Plan," a $1.9 relief bill purportedly crafted to address the economic impacts of the coronavirus.
If passed, the American Rescue Plan will be the first coronavirus relief package passed since Democrats gained control of Legislative and Executive Branches of the federal government in January.
"Emboldened by [President] Joe Biden and [Vice President] Kamala Harris, radical House Democrats are once again capitalizing on the COVID-19 crisis to expand abortion on demand, refusing to add Hyde Amendment protections to the relief bill," she said.
The Hyde Amendment prevents the use of taxpayer dollars to fund abortions and congressional Democrats have repeatedly expressed a desire to get rid of it.
"In addition, their bill creates a $50 million slush fund for Planned Parenthood — which violently ends the lives of more than 354,000 unborn children a year — and changes the rules for small business funding so that the abortion giant can tap into that money as well," Dannenfelser added.
"This divisive move flies in the face of the 'unity' this administration promised to promote. The majority of Americans, including millions of Democrats and Independents, oppose using tax dollars to fund abortion and bail out the abortion industry."
Dannenfelser elaborated on her concerns in a letter to lawmakers published on Thursday, before a vote on the American Rescue Plan took place: "While prior bipartisan COVID relief packages have included Hyde protections on funding streams that fall outside of existing limits on abortion funding, this bill departs from the status quo by leaving funds open to use for abortion."
"This bill appropriates large sums of money for health activities and for community health centers outside of the Labor, Health, and Human Services appropriations, purposefully exempting the funds from the protection of the Hyde amendment. This would allow the funding to be used for elective abortion, destroying rather than saving life."
Dannenfelser noted that the American Rescue Plan "uses federal funding to subsidize COBRA coverage during the pandemic, even if the coverage includes elective abortion" and that "COBRA has not been federally funded, so application of the Hyde principle has not been necessary."
She warned that because COBRA is publicly funded without Hyde protections in the bill, "the federal government will be directly subsidizing abortion using taxpayer dollars."
Additionally, Dannenfelser explained that the bill would enable Planned Parenthood to qualify for loans under the Paycheck Protection Program which was created to help small businesses stay afloat.
She maintained that as a result of Biden's direction to the Department of Health and Human Services to change the Trump administration's Protect Life Rule that prevented abortion providers from receiving Title X family planning funds, "this bill would funnel $50 million into what is often referred to as Planned Parenthood's slush fund," adding "It is no coincidence that Planned Parenthood lost approximately $50 million when it refused to comply with the Protect Life Rule."
Dannenfelser accused Democrats of using the coronavirus relief package to skirt the requirements of the Helms Amendment, which prevents the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions overseas. The Democrats set aside $500 million for international humanitarian assistance that was appropriated outside the Foreign Assistance Act, which includes the Helms Amendment.
The American Rescue Plan passed the House early Saturday morning, with 219 members voting in favor and 212 voting against it. Reps. Jared Golden, D-Maine, and Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., joined all Republicans in opposing the bill. The Senate will then pass its own version of a stimulus package, which the House must approve before sending it to Biden's desk.
Dannenfelser vowed that "the Susan B. Anthony List will work tirelessly with our Senate allies to keep abortion expansion out of the relief bill and hold elected leaders accountable for their votes."
Democrats have a narrow majority in the Senate, which consists of 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, with Harris serving as the tie-breaking vote. The Senate is using the reconciliation process to pass a coronavirus relief bill, which will enable legislation to pass with simple majority support as opposed to the usual 60-vote threshold.