BETHESDA – On the heels of a successful health care repeal vote in the House, anti-abortion legislation is fast emerging as the next major priority for House Republicans, a point Rep. Andy Harris, R-Cockeysville, drove home Friday night in a March for Life kick-off lecture at Bethesda’s Knights of Columbus Rock Creek Council.
“I believe in the value of human life,” said Harris. “And until we value every human life, we’ll have an attitude in the country that it is less than valuable.”
Harris, addressing about 100 people a little before 8 p.m., said babies are more than “a blob of tissue” and society is changing its mind about abortion.
These changed minds, he said, are the impetus behind the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions Act, HR 3—a bill introduced Thursday by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. The bill aims to end public funding for abortions.
The Hyde Amendment already prohibits Medicaid from paying for abortions for low-income women, but provides for exceptions in the case of rape or incest, or if the woman’s life is endangered by illness or injury. Similarly, other federal health care programs — for prisoners, Native Americans, federal workers, the military and other groups, also ban abortion funding, according to several Web sites that track the issue.
Harris said polling shows that though most Americans say they are pro-choice, they still oppose using their money to fund them.
“When the American people say, ‘I think it’s OK, but we shouldn’t spend money to do it,’ they don’t really think it’s OK,” said Harris. “If they thought in their hearts this was a basic right, they would say, ‘We should absolutely fund them,’ but they don’t.”
Attendees applauded as the congressman denounced late-term abortions and Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion.
The audience poured into the council’s Cantrel ballroom as early as 7 p.m. Participants included a mix of 30 “pilgrims” or visiting high school and college students from Fort Worth, Texas; Albuquerque, N.M.; and Nashville, Tenn.; lifelong abortion foes and Defend Life volunteers.
Founded in 1987, Defend Life is a Baltimore-based organization that offers an ongoing, anti-abortion lecture series.
Olga Fairfax, 70, is a full-time Defend Life volunteer. The Chevy Chase resident said she was an Obama supporter until she discovered his stance on abortion.
“Two times he voted for infanticide and three times he voted for partial birth, total death abortions,” said Fairfax. “There’s no way I could support him, and I hope to God he doesn’t get in again.”
Fairfax, who wore a red and white T-shirt reading, “Pro-life: Face the truth. Abortion stops here,” said she opposes abortion, even in instances of incest and rape.
“My adoptive daughter is a result of date rape. She went on to get six college scholarships. Hello?” said Fairfax. “God had her name carved in the palm of His hand, and He created her. Every child, we feel, is valuable.”
“People always throw that at me. ‘What about rape?’ I say, ‘What a minute, you’re talking about my daughter.’”
Luna Rodriguez, one of the high school students visiting from Albuquerque, N.M., said someone must speak up for unborn babies, since they are unable to do it themselves.
“If you don’t want your child, you can give it up for adoption,” Rodriguez, 14, said. “That baby can contribute to the world as much as anyone else can.”
Shortly before Harris’ talk, Jack Ames, co-founder of Defend Life, presented Missy Reilly Smith, a former congressional candidate, with Defend Life’s Ronald Reagan Award for Unprecedented Pro-Life Heroism.
Harris’ Friday night lecture was a run-up to the March for Life, an annual anti-abortion rally at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., scheduled for Monday.
– By Capital News Service’s Jessica Harper