No greater issue than fighting abortion

No greater issue than fighting abortion
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Nothing is more important to the pro-life cause today than seeing our nation’s legislative bodies recovering their voice, and their role, in setting public policy. Forty-four years after the debacle of Roe v. Wade, which mowed down the laws of every state protecting the right to life of the unborn, our national debate continues. Rather than settle that debate once and for all, the U.S. Supreme Court has roiled it for decades, facilitating the destruction of 58.5 million human beings in the womb. As the 115th Congress sets about its work, no issue deserves higher priority.

Most imminent, of course, is the nomination and confirmation of a ninth justice to the U.S. Supreme Court. President Trump has said that he will nominate a pro-life candidate to the high court. We understand him to mean that he will shortly nominate, from the list he has already released, a man or woman who owes allegiance to the Constitution of the United States and not to unelected judges inclined to elevate their policy preferences to the status of constitutional law. From the date it was issued, the Roe v. Wade ruling has been denounced by jurists from across the political spectrum and with diverse views about legal abortion. Recently columnist Charles Krauthammer renewed the chorus calling for Roe’s reversal, chiding the court for acting “arrogantly” and “unconstitutionally.”

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The appointment of good justices to the Supreme Court is job one, the first of four key commitments President Trump and all his major rivals for the GOP made to American voters. On the heels of this is the President’s pledge, backed by the work of the Republican leadership of the last Congress, to redirect taxpayer funding from Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, to the nation’s community health centers, which outnumber the abortion giant’s facilities 20 to one. Planned Parenthood’s intense focus on abortion, as the recent unmasking of its failure to provide prenatal care at the vast majority of its centers underscored, is contrary to the letter and spirit of the rules Congress desired for family planning services. Women attending community and rural health centers will receive more services, including primary care and prenatal care, even the mammograms Planned Parenthood deceptively claims to offer.

The first reconciliation act of 2017 is the right place and time to duplicate the reconciliation bill defunding Planned Parenthood that President Obama vetoed one year ago.

Congress will continue to press to make the annual Hyde Amendment permanent and government-wide. There should be no confusion about the scope and purpose of this bill. It is designed to end federal funding of abortion across all federal programs and agencies and to ensure that no federal dollars are provided in the form of tax credits or other mechanisms to pay for the purchase of insurance plans that cover elective abortion. The Affordable Care Act failed to include a strong amendment of this type and, as a result, federal funds currently subsidize nearly 900 elective abortion plans in the states. Republican bills to replace ObamaCare cannot make the same mistake. Making Hyde permanent law is not only good policy in the service of human rights, but it will also ensure that Congress can debate and pass other health reform measures without the annual controversy over a measure that has saved more than 2 million lives since 1976.

Beyond these issues, we expect the 115th Congress to be a prolific pro-life body, passing legislation that is both urgently needed and immensely popular. Protecting infants from horrifically painful late-term abortions, infants born alive after failed abortions and minors being trafficked across state lines to evade state parental notice laws — all these are on tap. In 2017–18 we expect the Congress to be a voice for life every day it is in session.

Dannenfelser is the president of the national pro-life advocacy group Susan B. Anthony List, which has more than 465,000 members nationwide.