Today Rep. Lois Capps (CA-23) decried the assault on women's reproductive rights by House Republicans and voted against anti-choice legislation, the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" (H.R. 3). The legislation passed the House along largely partisan lines.
This bill goes far beyond current law, which already prohibits federal tax dollars from paying for abortion care, except in the limited cases of rape, incest, or if the life of the woman is in danger. Instead, H.R. 3 impedes on private funding and decisions around abortion care. Specifically, H.R. 3 would deny federal credits or subsidies to private health insurance plans that cover abortion care even when the cost of abortion coverage is paid for entirely with private funds. This would affect any person with this type of plan, not just women, and have the effect of banning abortion coverage in the new health insurance exchanges that will be established by 2014 under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
In addition, It strips virtually all of the tax breaks that presently enable small businesses to offer their employees affordable coverage under the soon to be set up health exchanges unless they refuse to provide coverage for abortion. It will increase taxes on those who pay for abortion care or coverage by denying tax subsidies to low and moderate income families if they choose a health plan that cover abortion care. Additionally, individuals who spend a large portion of their own income on health insurance would be prohibited from deducting the cost of their premiums, so long as they keep insurance that covers abortion care. The legislation would also allow hospitals that refuse to take necessary steps to save a woman's life to receive federal tax dollars.
Presently, abortion care is only applicable for federal funds in cases of rape or incest. HR 3, as originally introduced, would have significantly narrowed this exemption, narrowing the incest exemption to only include minors and the rape exemption to from definition of "rape" to "forcible rape," a term undefined in federal law. Under the legislation as originally written, an 18 year old high school senior would not qualify for an exemption, even if she was a victim of incest. Similarly, statutory rape, date rape, and rape that occurred as a result of coercion, but not force, would not be enough to qualify.
After public outcry over the inclusion of the forcible rape language in the original legislation, it was removed. However, Republicans included similar language in the House Judiciary Committee report on the legislation. If a court were determining the intent of Congress in the legislation, the language in the committee report would serve as evidence of Congressional intent. Consequently, the final legislation could have the same effect as the version originally introduced.
"The passage of this extreme piece of legislation would make it so onerous for an insurance company to offer women abortion care that it would likely decline to, and so prohibitively expensive to provide or purchase abortion care coverage few employers or individuals could afford to. The message from the opponents of a woman's reproductive rights is clear: they want to stop women from exercising their constitutionally guaranteed right to control their own reproductive health. We should be using floor time in the House of Representatives debating important issues like jobs, not revisiting divisive social issues," said Capps.