Abortion on deck in health care debate

January 20, 2011


House Republicans will follow their health care law repeal vote with a more targeted attack: legislation to take down provisions that they contend allow for taxpayer funding of abortion.

Anti-abortion legislators will introduce the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act as H.R. 3 on Thursday. The bill intends to prevent federal funding for abortion procedures by codifying the Hyde Amendment, which has long barred federal agencies from paying for abortions.

The legislation is supported by the chairman of an Energy Committee health panel, Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-Pa.), and the co-chairs of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, Reps. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.). It also comes in tandem with the Protect Life Act, another measure meant to prevent taxpayer funding of abortion.

NARAL, a leading abortion-rights group blasted the move Wednesday night.

“These anti-choice politicians are out of touch with Americans’ values and priorities,” said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL. “These same lawmakers voted to repeal a health-care law that provides prenatal care and the promise of no-cost birth control to women. Now, they want to make it even harder for women to purchase private health insurance that includes abortion coverage with their own money. Their hypocrisy is astounding. It seems that they’re fine with government intrusion, as long as it involves interfering in women’s personal, private decisions.”

Supporters of abortion rights have long argued that the health reform law does not allow for taxpayer funding of abortion and has the necessary safeguards to prevent public funds from being spent on the procedure. President Obama signed an executive order at the end of the health reform debate last year, ordering that no federal funds be spent on abortion. It was a crucial move in the health reform debate that won over many anti-abortion Democrats, including former Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.).

Pitts, Smith and Lipinski will hold a press conference on the legislation Thursday morning, preceding House Speaker John Boehner’s media availability to outline the Republican’s overall approach to repealing the health reform law.

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