Activists Say Forthcoming Directive Breaks Promises on Abortion Funding

ASK Doug Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee about a forthcoming federal federal edict to require states to fund poor women's abortions in certain cases, and he'll fax back to you reams of quotations from administration officials and members of Congress who have promised that states will still have the option of not paying for abortions.

The most-cited example comes from Sen. Bob Kerrey (D) of Nebraska, an abortion-rights supporter who stated in an Oct. 29, 1993, letter to an Omaha, Neb., anti-abortion group, Metro Right to Life, that: ``I received personal assurances from the administration that in the absence of the Hyde amendment [which prohibits use of Medicaid money to fund abortions], states such as Nebraska, which do not allow state funds to be used for abortions, would not be required to accept federal funds for such procedures.''

In June, Donna Shalala, secretary of Health and Human Services, sent a letter to Rep. William Natcher (D) of Mississippi, chairman of the subcommittee that handles HHS funds, that stated: ``The administration prefers to work out an approach on this sensitive issue which is consistent with both state and federal law.''

And White House spokeswoman Dee Dee Myers said on March 30, speaking of the Hyde amendment:

``.... We'll work with Congress to make sure we're in accordance with state and federal law.''

Senator Kerrey, for his part, said in a Dec. 26 press interview that he supports the new rule requiring states to pay for certain abortions. He said his letter referred to an assurance that states would not be coerced to pay for abortions ``in all circumstances.'' In fact, he added, the new rule is in keeping with the wishes of many supporters of the Hyde amendment.

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