The Supreme Court issued its controversial Roe v. Wade decision, which forced states to legalize abortion on January 22, 1973. Rather than ending the debate, the pro-life movement has continued and made some progress over the last 40 years. However, much work remains to protect the sanctity of innocent life, and I have worked with my colleagues in both parties to bring pro-life legislation to the floor and advance the rights of the unborn.
Perhaps the best reflection of the growing pro-life movement is the success of the Annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. The first march in 1974 drew about 20,000 supporters. In recent years, the event has included hundreds of thousands of supporters from across the country. This year, the March for Life will be held on January 25 and could bring nearly half a million right-to-life participants to the nation's capital.
While the pro-life movement has grown many Americans hold strong opinions on both sides of this important topic. Because of the passion and controversy associated with this issue, I hope we can find common ground to end federal funding of abortions. Taxpayers should not be asked to pay for a practice so many find morally objectionable.
The Hyde Amendment, first passed in 1976, prohibited the federal funding of abortion. However, this amendment is not permanent law, but rather an amendment attached to annual appropriations bills. The amendment only applies to direct federal funding of abortion through programs such as Medicaid, and does nothing to stop funding of organizations which provide or fund abortions.
Title X programs have provided family planning support and related health services since 1970. The grant program prohibits the funding of abortions, however, grants have been awarded to organizations which perform abortions. While the grants may not directly pay for the abortions, they support the ability of these organizations to continue a practice many of us find wrong.
To address this problem, I signed-on as an original cosponsor of the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act which was recently introduced by Representative Diane Black (R-TN). This commonsense bill would restrict federal funding to any entity which performs or funds abortions.
This legislation would save lives, restore the original intent of Title X grants, and save hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars every year. At a time when Congress must make difficult decisions to cut spending, ending federal funding for abortion would be a good start.
I will continue to monitor this and other pro-life bills as they are reintroduced for the 113th Congress, and I am hopeful we will continue to make progress on this front. I believe all persons -- regardless of age or stage of development -- have a right to life, and I will continue to work to end taxpayer funding of abortion.