When he spoke at an anti-abortion rally in Washington, D.C., yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner made clear one of his biggest priorities for the new Congress: Make abortion illegal in the United States.
Boehner stood before hundreds of thousands of pro-life supporters on the chilly National Mall and pledged to commit his Congress to delving into one of the most contentious issues of our generation. For a Congress that has been paralyzed by partisan warfare, trying to “make abortion a relic of the past,” as the speaker pledged, surely will not be a path to bipartisan comity.
Boehner said it’s now time for anti-abortion activists to “commit ourselves to doing everything we can to protect the sanctity of life.”
He said the first step is making permanent the Hyde Amendment, which prevents federal dollars from being used to pay for abortions except in cases of rape or incest.
“For the new Congress, that means bringing together a bipartisan pro-life majority and getting to work,” Boehner said. “In accordance with the will of the people, we will again work to pass the ‘No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,’ formally codifying the Hyde Amendment.”
Boehner said he will make it a national priority to “help make abortion a relic of the past.”
“Let that be one of our most fundamental goals this year,” he said.
According to a poll by the Pew Research Center released last week on the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, 63 percent of poll respondents want to keep the ruling in place, up slightly from 60 percent in 1992. Gallup released a poll showing that just 18 percent of Americans want abortion banned in all circumstances.
So the goals expressed by Boehner and the protesters at yesterday’s March for Life are solidly in the minority right now. But that won’t stop them for pushing to make abortions as inaccessible as possible, if not illegal.
For instance in Mississippi, the state’s only abortion clinic said it received notice Friday that the Mississippi Health Department intends to revoke its operating license. The reason? Because the clinic is out of compliance with a new Mississippi law passed in 2012 requiring that anyone performing abortions at the clinic must be an OB-GYN with hospital admitting privileges.
But the problem for the clinic, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, is that the local hospitals refuse to grant admitting privileges to doctors who provide abortions —something state legislators certainly were aware of when they passed the law. Clinic owner Diane Derzis said local hospitals would not issue privileges to out-of-state physicians who perform most of the abortions at the clinic.
The state’s administrative procedures law permits the clinic to remain open while it awaits a hearing by the health department, which will likely happen in a month or so.
The state of Mississippi also created another obstacle for the clinic to mount: The clinic doesn’t have enough parking spaces. State regulations require the clinic to be “located in an attractive setting with sufficient parking space provided.” So the clinic now must submit a plan within 10 days showing how it would correct the parking situation. The clinic’s parking lot holds fewer than 20 cars.