One fine tradition that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) started a few years ago was opening each Congress with a bipartisan, multi-denominational prayer service. The theme of the service this year (chosen by the official House Chaplain, Rev. Patrick Conroy, S.J.) was “Building Community Toward a Common Purpose.”
The service included readings from Proverbs (2:1-10), Bhagavad-Gita (XVIII 57-58) and from the Gospel of Mark (12:28-34). The readings focused on service and were all tied together by Rev. Conroy as he asked the Members of Congress gathered to pray for their colleagues as they work together.
One issue in need of such coalition work is the issue of life. Facing an overtly hostile media some pro-lifers are afraid that Congress will not take the steps necessary to challenge the most pro-abortion President of our lifetime, Barack Obama. Starting in his original campaign, President Obama has been bold in the case of abortion, ending with the passage of one of the most anti-life pieces of legislation in generations, his health care law commonly known as Obamacare. As for the pro-abortion Democratic Leadership, they have supported legislation, misnamed, the “Women’s Health Protection Act”, which would nullify every and any advance for the cause of life.
Facing such boldness for the cause of abortion, the pro-lifers in charge of Congress need to have the same boldness. This is a priority first and foremost for moral reasons, but also for political reasons – as the nation is more pro-life than pro-abortion. For years, Congress has fought to maintain the status quo and has been losing. It is long past time to take the initiative on popular and needed pro-life legislation. A good start would be the following:
- In the House, passing the Federal Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which provides protection nationwide for unborn children who have the capacity to experience pain while being aborted, a capacity defined in the bill as existing by 20 weeks fetal age.
- Also in the House, passing the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act, which would clearly and permanently prohibit all taxpayer dollars from being used to cover abortion, including the indirect funding that occurs through subsidies to insurance purchasers.
- Passing the Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act, which would require every insurance plan established by Obamacare to clearly indicate whether or not it covers abortion.
- Protecting current pro-life provisions (also called riders) and adding new ones to end of year spending bills. Every year, pro-life protections such as the Hyde Amendment, are included in end of year Appropriations bills. Under President Obama’s Administration, new threats to life and issues of conscience have grown by incredible bounds. Congress needs to use the power of the purse to turn back this President’s support of the death industry known as abortion.
One of the top priorities for this Congress should be to return the Congressional Appropriations process to regular order. It has been nearly a decade since Congress has done its very basic job, appropriating funds to pay for the workings of the federal government. Instead Congress has repeatedly passed large, unreadable, unworkable Omnibuses or continuing resolutions, which does little to contain inappropriate spending curbing pro-abortion, taxpayer funded, outreach by the federal government.
All the above should just be a start, being done in the first year, if not hundred days. Despite the U.S. Senate being controlled by Republicans, it is not controlled by a pro-life majority, so groups working on legislation in the 114th Congress will have a lot of work ahead of them in passing some of these initiatives – admittedly some of these bills might even take multiple Congresses to enact. However, without boldness now on the issue of life, the current Congress might not deserve to be given the chance in future Congresses.