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House Republicans To Introduce Bill Expanding Restrictions on Insurance Coverage of Abortion

House Republicans To Introduce Bill Expanding Restrictions on Insurance Coverage of Abortion

January 20, 2011 — House Republicans on Thursday will introduce a bill (HR 3) that they claim would "permanently end taxpayer funding of abortion and codify the Hyde Amendment" -- which is added into appropriations legislation annually to prohibit federal funding for abortion care, except in cases of rape, incest or danger to a woman's life, CQ Today reports (Ota, CQ Today, 1/19). House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Congressional Pro-Life Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) will hold a press conference to introduce the bill today (Ryan, "Floor Action," The Hill, 1/19).

The bill has support from Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, as well as Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-Pa.), chair of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, Politico's "On Congress" reports (Kliff, "On Congress," Politico, 1/19). Pitts has proposed his own legislation purporting to ban federal funding for abortion, though CQ Today reports that it is not as far-reaching as HR 3. Pitts' bill is similar to a proposal pushed during the health reform debate last year by former Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) that would prohibit private health plans selling coverage in the health care exchanges from providing abortion coverage.

Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), an abortion-rights supporter, said, "This [Smith bill] would be the biggest intrusion on a woman's right to choose in our lifetime. This is not the will of the American people." Donna Crane, a spokesperson for the National Abortion Rights League, said HR 3 would also block employers from claiming a tax deduction on premiums for health plans that cover abortion care, adding that Republicans "want to reach into the tax code and change health insurance benefits" (CQ Today, 1/19).

"These anti-choice politicians are out of touch with Americans' values and priorities," Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said, adding, "Now, they want to make it even harder for women to purchase private health insurance that includes abortion coverage with their own money. It seems that they're fine with government intrusion, as long as it involves interfering in women's personal, private decisions" (Kliff, "On Congress," Politico, 1/19).