Today I voted against H.R. 7, legislation that would severely restrict women's access to private health insurance that includes legal abortion coverage.
I believe that in our families, our communities and our country we should do everything we can through parenting, support, education, prevention and access to quality healthcare to ensure that abortions are rare. However, I trust women to make the best decisions for their health and the health of their families without government interference. H.R. 7 violates this principle and is unprecedented in attempting to restrict the purchase of legal abortion coverage provided by private entities and paid for by individuals with their own funds.
Specifically, H.R. 7 includes three provisions that I cannot support:
Makes permanent the current prohibition on the District of Columbia using its own funds to help pay for abortion coverage. Congress should not direct how the District expends its own local funds.
Prevents small businesses that provide health insurance to their employees from receiving tax credits if the plan they offer covers abortion. The result will be that fewer private employers, 87% of whom currently provide insurance that covers abortion, will offer comprehensive health insurance.
Prohibits families buying insurances via the new health care exchanges from receiving tax credits if they decide to enroll in a plan that covers abortion, despite the requirement in current law that ensures tax dollars are not spent on abortion. This will mean that few plans covering abortion will be offered on the exchanges.
Despite deep disagreements on this issue, there has been 30 years of consensus in Congress prohibiting the use of federal tax dollars to pay for abortion procedures. This prohibition, known as the "Hyde Rule," has been a part of every Appropriations bill for decades and has my support. What I cannot support is government over-reach that substitutes the judgment of women and their families with that of Congress.
Although this legislation passed the House, President Obama has issued a veto threat and it is unlikely to be considered by the Senate.