Abortion politics: House Republicans led by House Speaker John Boehner introduced the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” (H.R. 3) Thursday. The bill is a high profile Republican anti-abortion effort that, like the health care repeal effort earlier this week, is largely symbolic.
The anti-abortion bill is being introduced prior to any legislation on jobs or the economy. This has many observers puzzled. Many wonder why the Republicans are wasting valuable time on largely symbolic matters when the nation faces real challenges needing immediate attention.
Most observers agree that the bill is superfluous. The “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” as advertised simply duplicates and codifies the existing Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funds from being spent on abortion.
Aside from symbolic value, some pundits speculate the bill is an attempt to drive a wedge between the majority of Democratic lawmakers who support abortion rights and a small group of Democrats opposed to reproductive freedom.
The “No Tax-Payer Funding for Abortion Act,” was introduced in tandem with the “Protect Life Act,” sponsored by Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee Chair Joseph Pitts (R-Pa.), even though independent fact check organizations have concluded that the health reform does not allow for federal funding of abortion.
While the abortion measures appear to be essentially symbolic, and it is highly unlikely they will be taken up by the Democrat-controlled Senate, they nevertheless represent a threat to women’s freedom and privacy.
According to NARAL, the proposed legislation 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.
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
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.
re-codify 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.