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Ms. RICHARDSON. Madam Speaker, I rise today in strong opposition to H.R. 3, the ``No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.'' This deceptively titled legislation is nothing more than another Republican assault on women's access to reproductive health care.
At a time when Congress needs to be focused on creating jobs and protecting the middle class, the Republican majority has decided to make this anti-choice bill a priority. If enacted, this legislation will severely curtail women's access to reproductive health care by:
1. Banning the coverage of abortion services in the new health care law;
2. Imposing tax penalties on women and small businesses with health insurance plans that cover abortion;
3. Narrowing the already restrictive rape and incest exceptions in the Hyde Amendment; and
4. Continuing to limit access to reproductive health care for low income women, and ban coverage for federal employees and women in the military.
If this bill were enacted, millions of families and small businesses with private health insurance plans that offer abortion coverage would be faced with tax increases, making the cost of health care insurance even more expensive.
Under the Affordable Care Act, insurers are able to offer abortion coverage and receive federal offsets for premiums as long as enrollees pay for the abortion coverage from separate, private funds. If enacted, H.R. 3 would deny federal subsidies or credits to private health insurance plans that offer abortion coverage even if that coverage is paid for from private funds.
This would inevitably lead to private health insurance companies dropping abortion coverage leaving millions of women without access to affordable, comprehensive health care. Currently, 87% of private insurance health care plans offered through employers cover abortion. If H.R. 3 is made into law, consumer options for private health insurance plans would be unnecessarily restricted and the tax burden on these policy holders would increase significantly.
H.R. 3 would also deny tax credits to small businesses that offer their employees insurance plans that cover abortion. This would have a significant impact on millions of families across the nation who would no longer be able to take advantage of existing tax credits and deductions for the cost of their health care. For example, small businesses that offer health plans that cover abortions would no longer be eligible for the Small Business Health Tax Credit--potentially worth 35%-50% of the cost of their premiums--threatening 4 million small businesses. Self-employed Americans who are able to deduct the cost of their comprehensive health insurance from their taxable income will also be denied similar tax credits and face higher taxes.
A November 2010 Hart Research poll found that a significant majority (74%) of the American population opposes the key provision of this bill, which would increase the tax burden on those who purchase comprehensive health insurance plans.
Current law requires state Medicaid programs to cover abortion care in limited circumstances, including in cases of rape, incest, or when the pregnancy jeopardizes the woman's life. H.R. 3 would allow states to refuse abortion coverage for Medicaid beneficiaries in all of these cases, even when their life is in danger.
Women who would need to terminate a pregnancy as a result of medical complications would be forced to pay up to $10,000 or more for abortion services. For many women, being forced to pay the full cost of an abortion is not economically feasible and would lead many families into bankruptcy or force pregnant women with medical complications to take on major risks to carry the child to term. H.R. 3 would also undermine the District of Columbia's home rule by restricting its use of funds for abortion care to low-income women.
The Hyde Amendment stipulates that no taxpayer dollars are to be used for abortion care, and has narrow exceptions for rape, incest, and health complications that arise from pregnancy which put the mother's life in danger. H.R. 3 would restrict women's access to reproductive health care even further by narrowing the already stringent requirements set forth in the Hyde Amendment.
When the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, the President issued an Executive Order to ``ensure that Federal funds are not used for abortion services.'' This bill goes far beyond the safeguards established under the Affordable Care Act, and sets a dangerous precedent for the future of women's reproductive health in this country.
At a time when the American people want Congress to focus on creating jobs and stabilizing the economy, the Republicans wish to focus on this divisive piece of legislation that does nothing to move our country forward.
I urge my colleagues to join me in voting no on H.R. 3, a bill that represents an unprecedented step backward in women's reproductive freedom.
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