Yesterday all House Republicans and 16 Democrats voted to pass HR 3, the “No Tax Payer Funding for Abortion Act.” The bill, which purports to prohibit taxpayer funding of abortions and ensure that healthcare reform law does not cover the cost of abortions, is misleading and punitive. Currently, because of the Hyde Amendment, there is no federal funding of abortion. The bill will now go to the Senate for a vote, where it likely will not pass.
HR 3 prohibits a military person from paying for an abortion with her own money in a military hospital. Moreover, employers who have private insurance plans that include abortion coverage would have to pay tax penalties, and federal workers who pay their own insurance premiums out of pocket would nonetheless be prohibited from having abortion coverage in their insurance. HR 3 would take the premium assistance promised by health reform away from people who choose a private insurance plan with abortion coverage.
Reproductive Rights activists, including Feminist Majority Foundation organizers, and members of the organizations DC Vote and the DC Abortion Fund, along with several city council members, protested the bill on Wednesday evening at Capitol Hill. The protest was focused on HR3’s permanent ban on the District’s ability to use local funds for abortions, as well as the general federalizing of D.C. government and funds. Council member Mary Cheh and 7 other women activists were arrested for blocking traffic during the protest. The groups hope to continue putting pressure on Congress and plan to hold a similar protest next Wednesday, May 11.
Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, stated “True to form, the House majority has cast a wide net in its attack on women’s health and rights – this time, trying to use the tax code to eradicate all insurance coverage for abortion. This move is the height of hypocrisy, because politicians who regularly rail against big government today voted to raise taxes on millions of families and small businesses – merely to stop them from purchasing insurance plans that cover abortion.”