American taxpayers have been kept in the dark about the fact that they are silent partners in subsidizing the 225,000 abortions committed in nonprofit hospitals each year.

The funding mechanism that builds and maintains such nonprofit hospitals is the municipal bond market, which provides preferential treatment by granting tax-exempt status to state and local bonds. Consequently, federal tax monies are being used, indirectly to be sure, to subsidize abortions performed in hospitals. This is in direct contravention of the federal government's legislated policy not to subsidize abortions -- except when the life of the mother is endangered.

In the past, Congress has been loath to restrict the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds. That changed, however, with the 1988 Supreme Court decision in South Supreme Court decision in South Carolina v. Baker, in which the court ruled that Congress can restrict the tax-exempt status of state and local bonds. Since that time, there have been several bills introduced to withhold tax-exempt status for policy reasons.

Though I believe Baker was decided wrongly, I will nonetheless seek to use this new-found authority to consolidate further the federal government's policy of no subsidies for abortion. I have therefore introduced legislation that would, among other things, deny tax-exempt status to municipal bonds issued by hospitals that perform abortions. This would not apply to the 80% of America's nonprofit hospitals that do not perform abortions.

The hospital community itself is more and more reluctant to terminate the lives of the preborn, which is why only one-fifth are willing to engage in this grisly business. And that number should continue to drop. The Alan Guttmacher Institute, a research arm and propagandist for the abortion industry, has recently admitted, somewhat reluctantly, to a 19% reduction in abortion providers since 1985, a reduction which occurred "entirely among hospitals."

Maybe hospitals are finally getting the message that abortion, though legally sanctioned by the Supreme Court -- though hopefully not for long -- is still a dirty word. The cloak of legality cannot hide its essential immorality.

This "shame factor" is also apparently strong enough to cause individual hospitals and the American Hospital Association to refuse to release statistics on the number of abortions performed. But it is still not strong enough to stop hospitals from accepting taxpayer subsidies. Indeed, in 1989 these hospitals accepted taxpayer subsidies on more than $11 billion of municipal bonds.

In reality my bill is pro-hospital, if one accepts the premise that a hospital is supposed to be a health-care provider, not an abortion mill.

The hospital crisis in America is real. It will nto be solved by healthcare facilities subsidizing their income by operating death chambers, nor by editorials in Health Care magazine proclaiming "Hospitals Need Image Makeover," nor even by philantropic fund raising slogans from the National Association for Hospital Development, which piously pleads "Give to Life," while some of its members are in the business of taking life.

No, the crisis will only be solved when there is a full commitment to curing with compassion, a credo of healing not hurting, and a return to businesslike modes of operation.

Through my legislation, the Congress has an opportunity to provide hospitals with an incentive to do just that, and to indicate to healthcare providers that it is not in the national interest to ask the overburdened taxpayers to subsidize that which the vast majority consider immoral.

Robert K. Dornan is a Republican representative from Dalifornia.

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