At a press conference ahead of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution hearing on H.R. 3, the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" today, House Judiciary Democrats staunchly rejected Republicans' characterization of the bill as a federal funding measure. In their remarks, Judiciary Democrats, led by Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) and Constitution Subcommittee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), asserted that the bill is a vicious attack against women and a woman's right to choose, and an attempt to promote an extreme social agenda when Americans are looking to Congress for jobs and economic relief.
H.R. 3, sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), would have a devastating effect on women and families. The bill further narrows the Hyde Amendment's already limited exceptions for rape and incest--coverage would be limited to women who can demonstrate "forcible rape" and incest survivors who are minors. The bill would also have the effect of eliminating the market for private insurance coverage for abortion. It would impose enormous tax penalties on Americans and businesses with private insurance plans that include abortion coverage. Over the objections of D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, the bill would prevent Washington residents from using even local health care funds as they see fit.
Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, said, "This is an offensive bill, period. Redefining rape? Forbidding women from using their private insurance plans to access a legal procedure? Targeting poor women, women with at-risk pregnancies, and women serving their country in uniform? They must be joking.
"The Republicans came to power in Congress saying they were going to focus on job creation and economic growth, but the introduction of this bill reveals their obsession with pushing an extreme social agenda that further restricts the right of women to access health services, including abortions, and have a say over their own bodies.
"H.R. 3 took us all by surprise, to be sure, but I know that I, my colleagues, those in the advocacy community, and women throughout this country are ready to organize and to fight. In fact, we must organize and we must fight now so that we send a strong signal, in no uncertain terms, that this kind of assault upon women is reprehensible, flies in the face of current law and precedent, and distracts from the important work before the Congress of job creation and economic growth.
"If it's a fight the Republicans want, then it's a fight we'll give them."
"The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act has very little to do with federal funding and a lot more to do with having the government dictate the terms of health care and health insurance coverage for women and their families," said House Judiciary Democrats. "H.R. 3 would penalize Americans for seeking to exercise their own private health care decisions. By redefining rape to limit abortion coverage, and by forcing federal employees, military servicewomen, and women with high-risk pregnancies to seek marginal treatment--or no treatment at all, H.R. 3 would be disastrous for the health and well-being of women. We refuse to stand by silently as Republicans attempt to take our country a hundred steps backwards."