GOP tries to make ‘No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act’ less controversial
The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, or House Resolution 3, which has stirred up anger among abortion-rights advocates throughout the nation — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has called it “the most comprehensive and radical assault on women’s health in our life time” – has undergone a few changes since it moved into the House Judiciary Committee for hearings on Feb. 8.
On Monday, Mother Jones released a memo (PDF), obtained from House Republicans, demonstrating the GOP’s efforts to appease opponents by eliminating some of the more controversial provisions, such as redefining rape (the bill formerly outlined rape resulting from force as the only kind eligible for taxpayer funding for abortion, not statutory rape or drug-induced rape).
The idea behind New Jersey Republican Rep. Christopher Smith’s bill is to make permanent the annually-renewed Hyde Amendment, which prohibits funding abortions through Medicaid, but also to prevent employers from being able to deduct insurance plans that cover abortion.
Other policies the GOP wishes to make permanent, according to the Committee on the Judiciary memo:
- Helms amendment: prohibits funding for abortion overseas
- Smith Federal Employees Health Benefits Program amendment: prohibits funding for abortion coverage for federal employees
- Dornan amendment: bans congressionally appropriated funds for abortion in the District of Columbia
- Restrictions on abortion funding through Peace Corps and federal prisons
- Hyde-Weldon conscience clause: prevents recipients of federal funding from discriminating against health care providers who do not cover or provide abortions
The main intent, as stated: “H.R. 3 will allow Congress to pass one piece of legislation that prohibits any federal funding of abortion, no matter where in the federal system that funding might occur.”
There is an exception for cases of rape, incest and when it is necessary to save the life of the mother.
The updated version clarifies that the bill does not prohibit individuals or entities from buying privately funded coverage that includes abortion — it just cannot be purchased using federal funds or matching funds required for a federally subsidized program. Those who receive a federal health insurance subsidy would be able to pay for abortion but could not use a federal premium payment to pay for any abortion-coverage premiums.
Perhaps a small victory for women, Mother Jones notes that the Republicans’ new version refers to women as “woman,” changed from the initial language “pregnant female” — which the magazine views as a move of respect: ” … the latter certainly gives more respect and agency to the woman rather than merely referring to her as a vessel for an unborn child.”
The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to mark up the bill on Thursday at 10 a.m.