President Barack Obama has been forced to uphold the long-standing ban on federal funds being used for abortions.
American politicians have been locked in a heated debate over the President’s controversial health care reform bill which was narrowly approved last night.
Pro-lifers feared the bill would allow federal funding to be used for abortions, but a last minute deal between the President and pro-life lawmakers resulted in the President issuing an Executive Order to uphold the current ban.
The order specifies that federal funds cannot be used for abortions, and calls for a strict monitoring system to ensure that the money is not misused.
The order warns that “it is necessary to establish an adequate enforcement mechanism to ensure that Federal funds are not used for abortion services (except in cases of rape or incest, or when the life of the woman would be endangered), consistent with a longstanding Federal statutory restriction that is commonly known as the Hyde Amendment.”
Abortion was made legal in America in 1973 through judicial activism when the Supreme Court ruled on the case of Roe v Wade.
Federal law states that federal funding cannot be used for abortions except in cases of rape, incest or where the mother is in danger.
However some pro-life groups have greeted the result with dismay, and are deeply sceptical about the effectiveness of the President’s order.
The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) released a statement saying: “The executive order promised by President Obama was issued for political effect. It changes nothing.
“It does not correct any of the serious pro-abortion provisions in the bill. The president cannot amend a bill by issuing an order, and the federal courts will enforce what the law says.”
But Dan Pfeiffer, White House Communications Director, insisted that the Bill will not allow federal funding for abortions.
He said: “While the legislation as written maintains current law, the executive order provides additional safeguards to ensure that the status quo is upheld and enforced, and that the health care legislation’s restrictions against the public funding of abortions cannot be circumvented”.
The House of Representatives voted to approve the Democrats’ health-care reform bill by 219 votes to 212.
All of the Republicans voted against the Bill.
A survey last year revealed that 51 per cent of Americans called themselves pro-life, against 42 per cent who say they are pro-choice.
In January 2009, in one of his first acts as President, President Obama lifted a ban on federal funding for international abortion groups.