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House Spending Bill Restricts ACA Abortion Coverage, D.C. Funding

House Spending Bill Restricts ACA Abortion Coverage, D.C. Funding

June 26, 2014 — The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday advanced a spending bill with two provisions designed to further limit abortion coverage under the Affordable Care Act and restrict abortion funding in Washington, D.C., CQ Roll Call reports.

The committee approved the provisions as part of the draft fiscal year 2015 Financial Services spending bill in a three-hour mark up. The bill passed in a 28-21 vote (O'Donnell, CQ Roll Call, 6/25).

ACA Restrictions

The committee in a 29-21 vote passed an amendment that would prohibit coverage for abortions in multistate health plans under the ACA, the Huffington Post reports (Bassett, Huffington Post, 6/25). The provision would not apply in cases of rape, incest or endangerment to a woman's life.

The amendment targets multistate plans sold through the health insurance marketplaces and negotiated by the Office of Personnel Management, according to CQ Roll Call (CQ Roll Call, 6/25).

Democrats criticized the proposal, arguing that the Hyde Amendment already prohibits the use of federal funds for abortion in cases other than rape, incest and life endangerment. They also noted that existing ACA provisions, backed by abortion-rights opponents, restrict abortion coverage through the marketplaces.

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said, "It's intellectually dishonest to say we need a more limited government, and then intentionally use the reach of the federal government to restrict a woman's ability to purchase an insurance plan of her choosing."

Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) defended the provision, arguing that "we all have a responsibility to make moral judgments [about abortion], and that's all we're asking to do here today" (Huffington Post, 6/25).

D.C. Abortion Funding Restrictions

Another provision in the bill would bar Washington, D.C., from using locally raised funds to pay for abortion services. The issue is an annual point of contention in the spending bill, CQ Roll Call notes.

During debate, Democrats contested the provision. The committee voted 24-26 to reject a Democratic amendment that would have changed the restrictions to apply only to federal funds appropriated to the district (CQ Roll Call, 6/25).