The COVID relief bill, known as the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, is aimed at helping Americans get back on their feet after a year of dealing with a global pandemic—however, it also includes taxpayer funding for abortion.

Passed in the House on February 27, the $1.9 trillion package includes a variety of what’s often referred to as legislative pork, but more importantly, it doesn’t include the Hyde Amendment, which prevents taxpayers from funding abortions. This is one of the first times in 45 years that the amendment has not been included in appropriations legislation, and a sign that the campaign to force all Americans to pay for abortions is growing.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is raising the alarm and has started a digital campaign against the bill and “its lack of pro-life protections.”

On its digital action center, it states, “Unfortunately, unlike previous COVID relief bills, this bill appropriates billions of taxpayer dollars that are not subject to longstanding, bi-partisan pro-life protections that are needed to prevent this funding from paying for abortions. The U.S.  Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote to Congress to express its support for additional COVID-19 relief that prioritizes the poor and vulnerable and its strong opposition to any taxpayer funding of abortion as part of this legislation, saying that the Hyde Amendment policy must be included before this bill moves forward.”

Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J. expressed his frustration with the removal of the Hyde Amendment. “In a radical departure from all previous COVID-19 relief laws — the bill before us today mandates taxpayer funding for abortion on demand,” he said. “Unborn babies need the president of the United States and members of Congress to be their friend and advocate — not another powerful adversary.”

At this point, the bill has now moved to the Senate where there is a 50-50 split and Vice President Kamala Harris currently acts as a tiebreaker. Unfortunately, due to a parliamentary maneuver, a simple majority is all that’s needed to pass “budget reconciliation.” If every Senator votes based on party lines, this could mean that the measure passes with Harris’ tiebreaking vote.

“All Americans want to see this pandemic and resulting economic hardship come to an end,” Chelsea Sobolik, a policy director for the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said. “The debate over this latest COVID relief and stimulus legislation should reflect that unifying priority, not the corrosive aims of the abortion lobby’s agenda.

“And as is the case with all government spending, the bill must include Hyde Amendment protections and other pro-life conscience riders. American taxpayer dollars should never fund abortion, something that would be especially egregious during a health crisis.”

As Democrats for Life president Terrisa Bukovinac and vice president Xavier Bisits argue in an opinion piece with The Hill, passing the legislation without the Hyde Amendment may impede the party’s other goals.

“The Hyde Amendment is so popular that its repeal could frustrate the entire Democratic legislative agenda: from climate change to health care reform. If House Democrats want to lose their majority in 2022, repealing a policy that two-thirds of Independents support is a sure way to do so,” Bukovinac and Bisits wrote.

Though there are certainly some Americans and families that still need additional support, it’s concerning to see the country’s representatives remove protections for babies and women. As Bukovinac and Bisits point out, “Allowing abortion is one thing. Forcing the taxpayer to fund it is quite another.”

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