WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on Tuesday that bars the government from using taxpayer funds for abortion in Obamacare plans, sending the measure to the Senate, where it is expected to face an uphill battle.
The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, presented by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), passed 227-188, with only six Democrats voting for the measure and one Republican voting against.
The bill “[p]rohibits the expenditure of funds authorized or appropriated by federal law, or funds in any trust fund to which funds are authorized or appropriated by federal law (federal funds), for any abortion.” It specifically bars funds from being used for health exchange plans that cover abortions and prohibits abortion from being included in health care services offered by the federal government and the District of Columbia.
The Act excludes rape, incest and the life and health of the mother.
Some in the House asserted that the bill is unnecessary as the Hyde Amendment, passed in 1976 and amended in 1994, is sufficient to prohibit federal dollars from being used for abortion.
“It’s like all we do around here. It’s propaganda. It’s politics,” said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA). “The Republicans try to make people believe that their taxpayer dollars are being used for abortion. It’s not true.”
But as previously reported, Smith contends that Obama has been breaking his promise regarding using taxpayer funds for abortion as most Congressional insurance plans include abortion services.
“In the run-up to passage of Obamacare, Americans were repeatedly told and reassured by President Obama himself, including in a speech to a joint session of Congress in October 2009, that ‘under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortion,’” he explained in a news release. “Obama even issued the infamous executive order that claimed, ‘the Act maintains current Hyde Amendment restrictions governing abortion policy and extends those restrictions to newly created health insurance exchanges.’”
“[But] once again we see those promises ring hollow—what the president said simply isn’t true today,” he continued. “In the most recent example, 103 of the 112 insurance plans that Members of Congress and congressional staff are being directed to include elective abortion coverage. Only nine plans offered exclude elective abortion.”
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) agreed.
“This president promised that ‘under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions.’ We know now that was a lie, and this bill corrects his broken promise,” he stated following Tuesday’s vote. “We should not be taxing Americans and forcing them to fund a violation of their religious freedom. The passage of this bill today is one more step toward restoring respect for the sanctity of human life.”
The House passed the bill despite threats from the White House to veto the legislation, should it make it to Obama’s desk.
“The legislation would intrude on women’s reproductive freedom and access to health care; increase the financial burden on many Americans; unnecessarily restrict the private insurance choices that consumers have today; and restrict the District of Columbia’s use of local funds, which undermines home rule,” officials wrote in a statement on Monday. “The Administration strongly opposes legislation that unnecessarily restricts women’s reproductive freedoms and consumers’ private insurance options.”
It will now move to the Senate for a vote, but likely with significant debate.