All House Republicans and 16 Democrats voted to pass H.R. 3, a alleged “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions” bill introduced by New Jersey Senator Chris Smith.
The bill, which many called “Super Hyde” as it took the rules already in place in the Hyde Amendment that forbid government funds to be used in abortions except in the case of rape, incest or health of the mother, then ups the definition of “government funds” to include any possible funding in the new health insurance exchanges that will be open due to health care reform, effectively banning abortion coverage by all participating insurers. H.R. 3 would also codify new additional conscience clauses for the health care industry, allowing anyone involved to refuse to perform an abortion for any reason, even if the woman needing the abortion’s life is in danger.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi railed against the bill on the House floor, calling it a “A diversion…legislation which is extreme and divisive and harmful to women’s health…a radical assault on women’s access to the full range of reproductive health care services.” She implored the Republican party to focus on jobs like they had promised to do.
Responses to the passage of the bill by women’s rights and reproductive rights groups was unanimous. Stephanie Schriock of EMILY’s List stated, “Republican leaders once again showed American women they care more about taking away their access to health care than they do about creating jobs. The economic recovery they campaigned on was just the first half of a bait and switch. Turns out, the number one GOP priority is an obsession with taking away women’s freedoms and their opportunities to keep themselves and their families healthy.”
Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said “Despite facing intense public backlash for bringing the government to the brink of shutdown over defunding Planned Parenthood, Speaker Boehner and his allies have resumed their War on Women with the passage of H.R.3. This bill is so extreme that it manipulates the tax code to advance anti-choice policies and could spur the IRS to audit rape and incest survivors who choose abortion care.”
Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, agreed, stating, “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.”
And Jon O’Brien, the president of Catholics for Choice, responded, “The vote is a rejection of the values that the Republican Party claims to represent. What is Republican about its leadership’s obsession with the private healthcare decisions that women make? The Republican Party’s platform calls for ‘improving public health through flexibility and innovation’ and ‘giving patients and providers control over treatment options.’ How does this move improve public health? How does it give women more control over their treatment options? Where does the platform state that we must destroy the social supports on which the less well-off rely? Finally, I must ask why the Republican elite is obsessed with the decisions that women and their partners make about whether to start or continue a pregnancy.
“The majority of the 68 million American Catholics — in fact, the majority of Americans — do not believe that government should be a party to the private deliberations women and their families make about healthcare. The vote that we witnessed today, led by those who oppose abortion in every instance — even in cases of rape, incest or when it is necessary to preserve a woman’s health or life — is shared by fewer than 15 percent of American Catholics and only 11 percent of the American populace at large.”
H.R. 3 will now face an uphill battle in the senate, where it is likely to fail. Should it pass, President Obama’s team has already stated he is likely to veto the bill. Then it would become a question of whether Republicans will finally be willing to let the war on women end, or if they will begin tacking their provisions on to every bill, as some in the GOP have threatened.