Through the use of a committee report Republicans have reintroduced the statutory (and other) rape exclusions to H.R. 3, otherwise known as the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.” A committee report is a document that congressional committees produce outlining their intent behind a particular piece of legislation. While not binding law, committee reports are instructive looks into legislative intent and can serve as a persuasive authority for courts who must parse such intent when a bill gets challenged.
The committee report for H.R. 3 says that the bill will “not allow the Federal Government to subsidize abortions in cases of statutory rape.” So despite the fact that the language of H.R. 3 does not say that explicitly, that’s exactly what Republicans intend the bill to do.
Republicans insist their efforts change nothing since current law (the Hyde Amendment) already prevents Medicaid from paying for abortions in cases of statutory rape. The problem is, Hyde does not make any distinction between statutory rape or any other kind of rape and the only evidence Republicans have offered to the contrary is their own testimony.
Hyde clearly states that there are two times when Medicaid funds can be used to pay for an abortion and those are in cases of rape or incest. States interpreting Hyde have never made a carve-out for rape cases that were “forced” and those that were “consensual.” But that is exactly what Republicans are trying to do.
As if that were not offensive enough, consider their efforts through the lens provided by Amanda Marcotte who argues forcefully and persuasively that this extended assault on women has now reached to coercive pregnancies for teenagers — poor teenagers obviously since the fight is around the use of Medicaid funds.
And for those who may be unswayed by issues of reproductive justice, consider the bill from a purely economic point of view. According to Frank Knapp, H.R. 3 is effectively a tax increase on small business because it eliminates the health insurance tax credits under the Affordable Care Act for any existing or new plans that provide coverage for abortion.
In fact the bill’s fiscal impact is so negative the non-partisan Office of Management and Budget took the unprecedented step and told the President to veto the measure should it pass — the first time ever OMB has taken such a stand.
The vote on H.R. 3 is tomorrow. Contact your Senators and insist they vote against H.R. 3.
photo courtesy of DaveFayram via Flickr