The House Appropriations Committee crushed an effort yesterday by Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.) to add new antiabortion restrictions to the $142.5 million federal family planning program.
The defeat came on a 37-to-16 vote in which nearly all the committee's Democrats and a third of its Republicans approved a substitute that sponsor Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) said basically does not alter existing program guidelines but puts them into law.
Under those rules, federally funded family planning clinics may not perform, advocate or advise women to have abortions. But clinic workers can tell a pregnant woman that terminating her pregnancy is an option and can refer her to a nonfederally funded abortion clinic if she desires.
The House panel, after defeating the Kemp move, voted to spell out this interpretation in the committee's report.
Durbin, who said he has a "pro-life" voting record, said his language would strengthen the prohibition against advocacy of abortion by workers in federally funded clinics.
Kemp, with backing from the National Right to Life Committee and other antiabortion groups, had drafted an amendment that, in its latest form, would have barred federally funded clinics from referring women to outside clinics even if they had so requested.
In addition, it would have excluded from the family planning program any organization that, using nonfederal funds at another site, made abortion referrals or performed abortions.
The amendment would have excluded the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, a major participant in the family planning program but which also operates separate clinics with its own funds that perform about 80,000 abortions a year.
Kay James, spokeswoman for the National Right to Life Committee, said the vote for Durbin's measure was a defeat for Kemp. "It's a sham," she said of Durbin's amendment.
William W. Hamilton Jr., director of the Washington office of Planned Parenthood, said, "We're very satisfied. We think it was a clear repudiation of Kemp's amendment."
Kemp had no immediate comment.
The vote came as the Appropriations Committee moved toward passage of a resolution to continue funding for programs whose fiscal 1986 appropriations have not yet been approved.
In addition to Planned Parenthood, opponents of the Kemp amendment include the National Family Planning Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Medical Association. Some opponents believe the measure would interfere with a physician's obligation to inform a patient of all medical options.
Scott Swirling, director of the National Family Planning Association, said he would have preferred a vote on the Kemp amendment because new language, even language intended to restate existing rules, could be distorted when the Department of Health and Human Services writes regulations to implement the law.
Kemp has indicated that he may try to attach his amendment to the continuing resolution on the House floor, although the Appropriations Committee sometimes brings such measures up under rules that preclude floor amendments