Rep. Todd Tiahrt touched off a controversy last Thursday when he
urged Congress not to fund abortions in D.C., pointing out that had
such funding existed years ago it could have snuffed out the
African-American luminaries of today before they were born. The
children aborted in Washington, D.C., correlating to the city's
community of poor on a whole, are disproportionately African-American.
During his remarks the Kansas congressman called for an up-or-down vote
in the House of Representatives on the abortion funding in the
Financial Services Appropriations bill. The bill had adopted a
suggestion by President Obama to eliminate a ban on federal funds for
abortions in the city.
"If you think of it in human terms, there is a financial incentive that
would be put in place, paid for by tax dollars, that would encourage
women who are single parents, living below the poverty level, to have
the opportunity for a free abortion," said Tiahrt.
"If you take that scenario and apply it to many of the great minds we
have today, who would we have been deprived of?" Rep. Tiahrt
"Our president grew up in those similar circumstances. If that
financial incentive was in place, is it possible that his mother may
have taken advantage of it?"
He added: "Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court justice - if those
circumstances were in place, is it possible that we would be denied his
great mind?" Thomas was born in an impoverished African American
community in Georgia.
Tiahrt's argument drew upon the fact, supported by research from
Planned Parenthood's Guttmacher Institute, that abortion
disproportionately targets African-American mothers and their
children. Today, the abortion rate for black women is five times
higher than the abortion rate for white women.
In a report released earlier this month, the Guttmacher Institute also
concluded that taxpayer funding for abortion leads to the death of
approximately 33% more unborn children than if it were not publicly
Tiahrt's bid for a separate vote on the issue was denied, and despite
stiff opposition from Washington pro-life leaders, the abortion funding
was voted through in the House Thursday evening 219-208.
The comments immediately drew fire from liberal media, where the
remarks were widely decried as divisive and disrespectful. The
Democratic Party (KDP) launched an online petition the next day
demanding Tiahrt to apologize.
"No matter where you stand on abortion, we can all agree this is a
disgusting, divisive comment and deserves to be rebuked," wrote Mike
Nellis of the KDP on the Daily Kos blog Friday. "President Obama
deserves better, the U.S. House of Representatives deserves betters,
and the people of Kansas deserve better. It's time that we demand it!"
KDP Executive Director Kenny Johnston said in an email to constituents
that the comments "are proof that he is unfit to serve the people of
Kansas as a U.S. Senator."
Washburn University political science professor Bob Beatty suggested to
the Wichita Eagle that Tiahrt made a misstep in making personalized
comments on the House floor. "The idea, not just in politics but
American culture, is you stay away from people's mothers," he said.
Operation Rescue President Troy Newman, however, applauded Tiahrt for
opposing the D.C. funding that would "further target vulnerable black
women for abortions," saying it is "racist at its core."
"After 50 million abortions on all races, it is clear that we have been
denied those who would have enriched us as a people," Newman
"Have we aborted the one who would have had the intellect and
inspiration to find a cure for cancer, or find ways new to feed the
"It is a legitimate question that needs to be asked, because the
societal impact of abortion is deep and devastating, and affects us
all. The last thing abortion promoters want is dialog on this subject."
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg - a staunch abortion
supporter - caused a stir earlier this month when, in discussing her
expectations for Roe v. Wade, she echoed the original eugenic
aspirations of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger.
"Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was
concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations
that we don't want to have too many of," said Ginsburg in a New York
Times interview published July 7.
Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life Friday condemned Congress' refusal
to vote on the D.C. abortion funding.
"The House leadership knows that the public does not want to pay for
abortions so they refuse to allow a separate vote on the question,"
said Fr. Pavone. "Their pure political cowardice, however, will
shield supporters of the DC appropriations bill from pro-life scrutiny."
Contact: Kathleen Gilbert
Date: July 20, 2009
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The IFRL is the largest grassroots pro-life organization in
Illinois. A non-profit organization, that serves as the state
coordinating body for local pro-life chapters representing thousands of
Illinois citizens working to restore respect for all human life in our
society. The IFRL is composed of people of different political
persuasions, various faiths and diverse economic, social and ethnic
backgrounds. Since 1973 the Illinois Federation for Right to Life has
been working to end abortion and restore legal protection to those members of the
human family who are threatened by abortion, infanticide and euthanasia. Diverse though we are, we hold one common belief - that
every human being has an inalienable right to life that is precious and must be protected. IFRL is
dedicated to restoring the right to life to the unborn, and protection
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