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Budget bill bans bias on abortion
A $388-billion spending bill approved by Congress over the weekend has some questionable expenditures, like up to $2 million for a naval museum's purchases of a former presidential yacht and a quarter-million to Nashville's Country Music Hall of Fame. Then there are items that religious conservatives won't be happy about. For example, expenditures are lower than requested for programs promoting sexual abstinence and helping ex-offenders get jobs. But some items they've got to be thrilled about: like banning federal funds for the creation or destruction of human embryos for research purposes, and barring schools from using federal funds "to prevent the implementation of programs of voluntary prayer and meditation in the public schools."

Nevertheless, one provision is getting all the attention:

None of the funds made available in this Act may be made available to a Federal agency or program, or to a State or local government, if such agency, program, or government subjects any institutional or individual health care entity to discrimination on the basis that the health care entity does not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.

(For those wanting to read the bill, this is Sec. 508 (d)(1) under Title V--General Provisions.)

Rep. David Weldon (R-Fla.), who sponsored the addition to the bill, explains, "This policy simply states that health care entities should not be forced to provide elective abortions, a practice to which a majority of health care providers object and which they will not perform as a matter of conscience. … This provision is meant to protect health care entities from discrimination."

Individual doctors (Weldon's one, by the way) have the freedom not to perform ...

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November 2004

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