With abortion an ever increasingly divisive topic in this year’s political cycle, the issue is now being injected into the Homeland Security debate. The House recently passed the Homeland Security spending bill, HR 5855, which includes a clause outlawing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agency from providing abortions to illegal immigrants other than in cases of rape, incest or health concerns.
While the new provision in the $46 million Homeland Security House bill essentially means nothing new for the agency, it does limit the agency from amending its policy — a move that now cannot be undertaken, as it is dependent on its funding.
The House bill does include language indicating, in the case of rape, incenst, or concerns over a mother’s health, funding of abortions through ICE could be permitted. The legislation mimics provisions in the ICE policy currently on the books.
In an interview with MintPress, ICE spokesperson Gillian Christensen said the ICE policy does currently provide funding for victims of rape, situations of incest and those whose health could be in danger. However, since the agency’s creation in 2003, it has not provided funding or transportation for abortion.
“We have not paid for any abortions,” Christensen said.
The measure was proposed by Rep. Robert Aderholt of Alabama’s Fourth District. A press release issued on the website did not specifically include information relating to the anti-abortion provision. However, it does indicate the drawback in funding to the agency as a success and says it promotes funding of “frontline operations,” including border control, maritime safety aviation security and disaster relief. Calls to his press office were not immediately returned.
In an interview with Congressional Quarterly Today, Aderholt said the formal legislation would formalize the ICE policy.
According to CQ Today, Rep. James Moran, a Democrat from Virginia, claimed the inclusion of the abortion amendment was done so for political gain. Moran argued for inclusion of funding for abortions in the case of incest.
While victorious in the House, the bill now has to pass through the Democrat controlled Senate. Considering it passed by a vote of 234-182 in the House, along party lines, it is unlikely Democrats will pass the bill as is.
The House version includes cuts to Homeland Security, with overall funding of $39.1 billion in discretionary funding — down $484 million from the current fiscal year, according to a press release issued by Aderholt.
The abortion provision in the Homeland Security bill comes one week after the House — needing two-thirds approval — failed to pass a bill through that would have outlawed ‘gendercide,’ the term given to abortions carried out based on the sex of the child.
The bill’s proposal was sparked by a recent series of videos released by a pro-life organization, showing an undercover pregnant woman telling Planned Parenthood workers their plans to terminate pregnancies if tests revealed the child to be a girl. To the dismay of pro-life groups, Planned Parenthood workers did not advise against the practice, saying it was the organization’s stance not to discriminate abortion services based on personal reasons.
Republicans argued the videos shed light on another twist to the debate over who exactly is waging a ‘war on on women,’ while Democrats said the legislation was too ambiguous and a political stunt. The legislation would have mandated issuing fines to doctors who carried out abortions based on gender discrimination.
The bill can be introduced again in a manner that requires a majority rule for passage. However, as in the case of the anti-abortion Homeland Security measure, it is unlikely to pass through the Democrat-controlled Senate.