Democratic lawmakers are scrambling to overturn long-standing protections against taxpayer funding for abortion.
Congressional Democrats on Tuesday reintroduced the Women's Health Protection Act, which would significantly limit the ability of states to pass pro-life reforms. The act aims to create safeguards around access to abortion in states that have passed laws restricting or outright banning abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected or after a certain number of weeks in a pregnancy. The legislation comes as Democratic senators push more taxpayer funding into federal grant programs and family planning programs that funnel tens of millions of dollars to organizations such as Planned Parenthood. These efforts accompany a budget proposal from President Joe Biden that threw out the Hyde Amendment, a decades-old provision that prevents taxpayer money from funding abortion services.
Republican lawmakers are pushing back against Biden's abortion agenda. Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) said eliminating the Hyde Amendment represents a "radical" departure from the bipartisan consensus that has stood since Biden was first elected to the Senate in 1972.
"Democrats are once again looking for ways to advance their radical pro-abortion agenda using taxpayer dollars," Rubio said. "Republicans will protect the Hyde Amendment, stand up for life, and reject these radical left efforts to fund nationwide abortion on demand."
State Republicans are also taking steps to prevent taxpayers from funneling millions of dollars to abortion providers. More than 20 Republican state attorneys general threatened legal action against the Department of Health and Human Services over proposed funding for abortion through the Title X program. The Department of Health and Human Services is requesting more than $130 billion in discretionary funding, a nearly 25 percent increase over its fiscal budget in 2020. The department did not respond to a request for comment on how that funding is going to be used.
While the Democratic measures have been championed by Planned Parenthood and other abortion industry groups, the policies are unpopular with the American people, particularly among independent voters. Polls suggest that a majority of independent voters support restrictions on abortion. More than 50 percent of independent voters said they would be more likely to support a Republican candidate who backs limits on abortion, compared with 18 percent who said they would support a Democratic candidate who backs unrestricted access to late-term abortions.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, said popular support and scientific advancement are working against the Democratic agenda.
"The majority of voters reject late-term abortion and the Democratic candidates who shamefully advocate for it. At 15 weeks, unborn children can feel pain, and most European countries limit abortions at this point," Dannenfelser said. "There is strong support among the American people for our nation's laws to finally catch up with science and international norms."