A community health bill was dropped late Wednesday night after anti-choice lawmakers added language that would have allowed hospitals and health plans to adopt a “conscience clause” to opt out of providing abortion services and referrals based on religious or moral objections. After being contacted by several Catholic groups, the rider was initiated by House Majority Leader Richard Armey (R-Tex) in an effort by GOP leaders to place abortion restrictions on popular bills that stand a good chance of becoming law. Armey’s move “sparked a rebellion” among Congressional abortion rights supporters who called Armey’s tactic “ham-handed” and warned that the measure would fail unless the language was removed.
In other reproductive health care news, the House and Senate have passed two appropriations bills worth $123.8 billion for funding foreign health and human services, including reproductive health services. The bill represents an $11 billion increase over this year’s spending and, according to the American Cancer Society, include allocations of $192.6 million for the Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program and $4.6 million for the Ovarian Cancer Awareness Program.