By Brian Montopoli
On the heels of the House vote to repeal the health care reform law, Republicans turned Thursday to the issue of abortion, holding a morning press conference on the planned "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act."
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), who led a press conference on the bill, said it would "make clear that taxpayer funding of elective abortion will not be the policy of this government."
The current law, he said, "does not reflect he will of the American people." Added the speaker: "Our members feel very strongly about the sanctity of human life."
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), who is introducing the bill in the House, said that it would ensure that taxpayers "no longer are coerced into using taxpayer money to subsidize the killing of an unborn child." He cited President Obama's call for abortion to be "rare" and argued that abortion rates drop without federal subsidies.
Smith also said that the bill includes so-called "conscience protections" that would empower courts and ensure that doctors, nurses and other health care professionals can opt out from having to perform abortions.
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, released a statement arguing the bill is designed "to end insurance coverage for virtually all abortions, including private insurance coverage that Americans pay for with their own money, even in cases involving the most severe dangers to a woman's health."
"Under the Smith bill, individuals who have health insurance coverage that includes abortion will face tax penalties because they will not be able to claim existing tax deductions for the cost of their health care," she said. "Similarly, small businesses that offer their employees comprehensive health insurance coverage will also face tax penalties because they will no longer be able to claim existing deductions."
Backers of abortion rights, including most Democrats, say the health care overhaul law already maintains the Hyde amendment ban on federal funding of abortions.
During the debate over the health care legislation last year, Rep. Bart Stupak led a block of anti-abortion rights House Democrats in refusing to support the bill. He ultimately backed the bill, however, after President Obama agreed to release an executive order backing up the existing ban.
Boehner and Smith said the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" would codify the Hyde amendment. They also said they supported a separate bill from Rep. Mike Pence (R-Indiana) that would ban federal funding of any kind to organizations that perform abortions. Organizations are already barred from federal funding for abortions but Pence's bill would deny them federal funding for other services as well.
Like the health care repeal bill, the abortion measures appear to be essentially symbolic since it is unlikely they will be taken up by the Democrat-controlled Senate.
House Leadership Puts Anti-Choice Attacks Ahead of Jobs and the Economy
“Stupak on Steroids” proposal gets top billing, one day after House votes to repeal health-reform law
Washington, D.C. – Today, Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said House leadership confirmed that attacking a woman’s right to choose will be a top priority in the new Congress. The proposed “Stupak on Steroids” bill received the designation H.R.3, signaling its importance to the anti-choice leadership.
“The news today is from Capitol Hill, but it might as well have come from another planet,” Keenan said. “As candidates, these lawmakers told voters they wanted to focus on creating jobs while limiting the role of government in our lives. Now, as these politicians take control of the House, they want to be able to interfere in our personal, private decisions, especially a woman’s right to choose. They are out of touch with our country’s values and priorities. What happened to the jobs agenda? How many people will be employed as part of their campaign to attack a woman’s right to choose?”
The politicians who “headlined” the event where the bill was introduced came from both political parties, including Rep. Dan Lipinski, an Illinois Democrat, and Republican Reps. Chris Smith of New Jersey and Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania. Pitts was hand-picked by anti-choice groups to serve as chair of the Energy and Commerce health subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over many programs important to women’s health.
Keenan said H.R.3, introduced by Rep. Smith, if identical to last summer’s version, is even worse than the original Stupak ban on abortion coverage that was rejected during the debate on health reform. Keenan said Smith’s far-reaching bill would undermine women’s freedom and privacy in a number of ways:
* It would ban coverage of abortion in the new health-care system and impose tax penalties on Americans with private insurance plans that include abortion coverage. Currently, 87 percent of private plans currently include such coverage.
* It would narrow the already severely limited rape and incest exceptions in the Hyde amendment, which bans federal funding for abortion care. This new restriction would deny Medicaid coverage for abortion to survivors of statutory rape and any incest survivor who is 18 years of age or older
* It would reimpose the ban on Washington, D.C.’s use of its own local funds for abortion for low-income women, an unfair restriction which Congress lifted in 2009, and a move that President Obama supported.
* It would recodify the ban on abortion care for women in the military, denying them access to abortion care at overseas military hospitals, even if they pay for the service with their own money.
Keenan also said that Speaker John Boehner and his top lieutenants cosponsored “Stupak on Steroids” in the previous Congress. Boehner’s “Pillars of a New Majority,” a compilation of five speeches that outline his vision for the country, includes a speech before the National Right to Life Committee in which he praises the legislation.
Yeah, the second source is obviously slanted pro-choice, but a) I'm pretty okay with that, and b) This was the most detailed article I could find on what the proposed bill would probably entail (assuming it's similar to a bill from last year).