Obama Nominee Says First Amendment Protects Taxpayer-Funded Abortions

President Barack Obama’s nominee for deputy secretary of state said in written congressional testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that taxpayer funding of abortions is constitutionally protected under the First Amendment in the United States.

The nominee, James B. Steinberg, was defending Obama’s repeal of the Mexico City Policy in response to a question from Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). The answer, which DeMint posted on his blog, is fresh evidence that Obama is stocking his administration with left-wing ideologues whose views contrast with the tone Obama has sought to portray during his first week in office.

Here’s a transcript of the written exchange (emphasis added):

Question from Senator DeMint: For more than 30 years the Hyde amendments, which prohibit federal funding for abortion services, have been supported by Republican and Democrat administrations and Congresses. Unfortunately, while this is the domestic policy of the United States, President Obama has vowed to reverse our foreign policy by repealing the Mexico City policy and use the federal taxpayer dollars to fund abortion services overseas. Do you support President Obama’s efforts to lift the Mexico City restrictions? Do you believe our foreign policy should contradict long held domestic policies?

Answer from James Steinberg: President Obama has supported repeal of the Mexico City policy, as has Secretary Clinton. Longstanding law, authored by Senator Jesse Helms, expressly prohibits the use of U.S. funds of abortion. The Mexico City policy is an unnecessary restriction that, if applied to organizations based in this country, would be an unconstitutional limitation on free speech.

DeMint maintains that Steinberg’s stance conflicts with the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Rust v. Sullivan in 1991, which concluded: “The Government has no constitutional duty to subsidize an activity merely because it is constitutionally protected, and may validly choose to allocate public funds for medical services relating to childbirth but not to abortion.”