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House Appropriations Committee Votes to Restrict Abortion

The US House of Representatives Appropriations Committee voted yesterday to approve two restrictions on abortion – one restricting abortion funding under the Affordable Care Act and one continuing a ban that does not allow DC to use its own funds to subsidize abortions for low income women.

The Hill reports that the amendment to restrict abortion funding under the Affordable Care Act will extend current law that prohibits federal funds from being used for abortions and federal employee health plans from covering abortion. The amendment, sponsored by Alan Nunnelee (R-MS), was approved in a 28 to 20 vote. Under the amendment, the multi-state healthcare exchanges set up by the Federal Office of Personnel Management as part of the Affordable Care Act will not be allowed to offer insurance plans that cover abortion. The law already prohibited one of the two health exchanges to be set up by the Federal Government from offering abortion coverage, but this amendment extends that ban to both. Rep. Nina Lowey (D-NY), condemned the amendment, saying “extremists are hell bent on denying health services.”

The second restriction that was approved will continue the ban on using DC funds for abortions. The ban has been in place for over ten years, though it was briefly lifted in 2010 when the Democrats took control of Congress. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced an amendment to lift the ban, but it was voted down yesterday in a 26 to 21 vote. Lee said, “It marginalizes the city and its residents and blatantly impedes on the District’s ability to self-govern. No other city is told how to spend its locally raised revenue, so why should we force the district?”

The Hill 6/20/12; The Washington Post 6/20/12