On Jan, 22, 1973, women celebrated the momentous decision in which they were given control of their reproductive health. Thursday, on the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, women were struck with disappointment when the House passed H.R. 7, the No Taxpayer-Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act, a definite and wide-ranging attack on women’s reproductive rights.
H.R. 7 would make the 1976 Hyde Amendment part of the U.S. code, prohibiting the use of federal funds for abortion care except in cases of rape, incest, or endangerment to the woman’s life. If the No Taxpayer-Funding for Abortion Act were to become law, Hyde would not have to be passed by Congress each year as it has been for decades. Over those years, the Hyde Amendment has disadvantaged Medicaid beneficiaries, low-income women who depend upon the program for their reproductive health care and who have had to find funds from other sources to pay for abortions.(Often this has delayed their obtaining their abortions until further into pregnancy.) Because Medicaid is financed by a federal-state match, there are some states that permit abortions for Medicaid beneficiaries by using the state-funded component. The Medicaid program is by far the single largest program providing reproductive health care services to low-income women.
In reporting on the last minute withdrawal of another bill, The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act – H.R. 36, which would ban abortions at the 20th week of a pregnancy and beyond, the press suggested that H.R. 7 was a “watered-down” version or a less objectionable one. Sad to say, that H.R. 7 is a sweeping piece of legislation that would not only prohibit the use of public funds for low-resource women to obtain abortions, it would expand other prohibitions on the abortion care affecting wide swath of even private insurance plans and many millions of women.
As noted, it permanently blocks abortion coverage for low-income women, and would block coverage for civil servants, D.C. residents, military women, Peace Corps volunteers and many others who receive health care and insurance cover through the federal government. It does this by incorporating and re-codifying numerous prohibitions that reside elsewhere in the U.S. Code.
And, as not everyone may know, the District of Columbia is forbidden to use local funds to pay for abortion care – a truly counter-productive and mean-spirited prohibition which Congress has imposed.
Other aspects of this harmful legislation, as reported by NARAL Pro-Choice America follow.
H.R. 7 reaches far into the nation’s health care system to impose tax penalties on small businesses that choose private health plans that cover abortion care, with the goal of driving consumers away from these plans. Right now, 87 percent of private plans cover abortion services.
The legislation bans coverage of abortion services for women insured by multi-state health plans under the Affordable Care Act—private health insurance plans which offer consumers a uniform array of health benefits in every state in which they operate.
H.R. 7 revives the failed Stupak-Pitts amendment to the Affordable Care Act, effectively banning abortion coverage in policies purchased through the ACA health exchanges, and even in instances where women use their own private funds to pay for their insurance. ACA experts say that this threatens the availability of private insurance coverage for abortion for all women in private health plans nationwide.
The No Taxpayer-Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act passed the House by a vote of 242 to 179, on a near party line vote. The scheduling of this exercise was planned as a gift to the thousands of anti-abortion rights demonstrators who came to Washington on the Roe anniversary – most of them Catholic high school students bussed in for the event.
However, H.R. 7 is probably DOA when moving to the Senate as democrats will likely threaten a filibuster and for which there are not the 60 votes to overcome. The Obama administration expressed its opposition early Thursday to H.R. 7 in a Statement of Administration Policy, strongly suggesting that the President would veto the legislation if it reaches his desk.
NOW’s position on H.R. 7 and other related attacks is that abortion is a common, safe and legal medical procedure that is relied upon by a majority of women who have this procedure at some point during their reproductive years.
It needs to be treated like any other medical procedure and included for coverage under all insurance plans, especially those purchased through the Affordable Care Act’s State Health Exchanges and the federally-facilitated Exchanges.