Anti-abortion legislation flanks repeal vote

Almost immediately after the vote this week to repeal the health reform bill, congressmen introduced a pair of anti-abortion bills that show just how serious House Republicans are about changing the current healthcare culture. 

Of the two bills introduced Thursday, the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions Act (H.R. 3)," sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), aims to outlaw any tax dollars from going toward abortions. The "Protect Life Act,"sponsored by Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-Pa.), aims to ban government funding for abortions under the Affordable Care Act. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) deemed the bill that would cut taxpayer funding for abortions "common-sense legislation."

"[C]urrent law--particularly as enforced by the Administration--does not reflect the will of the people," Boehner said in revealing the "No Taxpayer" bill. It is "one of our highest legislative priorities," he said.

Despite skepticism about repeal's chances as a whole, thanks to the Democratic majority in the Senate, NPR reports that the abortion bills have a much higher likelihood of ultimately landing on President Obama's desk, with several on the left opposed to abortion. With regard to H.R. 3 in particular, National Abortion Rights Action League policy director Donna Crane tells NPR that the legislation, if successful, could have widespread effects. 

"If you are a health insurance plan and you are selling your product, and all of a sudden it becomes that much more expensive because there are tax penalties imposed on it, you're probably going to change the nature of your product," she said. "[I]n this case, we're quite certain that Chris Smith intends for health insurance plans to drop their abortion coverage." 

According to Pitts, meanwhile, the goal of the "Protect Life Act" is to close any loopholes that might exist beyond H.R. 3. 

"They've opened the proverbial floodgates for federal money to pour into abortion services," Pitts said, according to NPR. "This is simply not acceptable." 

The Center for American Progress, a left-leaning public policy organization, released a statement shortly after H.R. 3's announcement rejecting the bill as too expansive in terms of government reach into women's healthcare issues. 

"Rep. Smith's bill would go far beyond current law, seriously compromise women's access to reproductive healthcare, and hamstring government operations," Jessica Arons, Director of the Women's Health and Rights program for the Center for American Progress, wrote. "H.R. 3 would redefine the concept of government funding far beyond the current common understanding....[I]t would insert itself into every crevice of government activity and prohibit even private and nonfederal government funds from being spent on any activity related to the provision of abortion any time federal money is involved in funding or subsidizing other, nonabortion-related activities." 

To learn more:
- read this NPR article
- check out this story in Politico
- here's a press release from Boehner's office
- here's the Center for American Progress' memo