Today the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3, a sweeping anti-abortion rights bill sponsored by long-time reproductive justice opponent Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and championed by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) as more important than jobs or economic recovery. The bill would enshrine into law extreme funding restrictions on abortion care, putting women’s health and lives at risk. The National Organization for Women vows to work aggressively to block passage in the Senate and applauds the White House for threatening to veto this bill.
The so-called No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act goes much further than its deceptive title suggests. It would codify and dramatically expand a collection of federal abortion funding restrictions referred to as the Hyde Amendment. As acknowledged by the late Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), the goal of instituting and broadening these restrictions has always been to effectively overturn Roe v. Wade; targeting low-income women was Hyde’s opportunistic start. Now conservative lawmakers’ goal is to deny women at all income levels access to insurance coverage for abortion care.
Rep. Smith and Speaker Boehner take this ideological crusade to new lows by attempting to specifically define and limit what constitutes a health exception while narrowing incest and rape exceptions — a long-sought effort of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (who, let it be recalled, continue to be notorious for systematically protecting child rapists) and their ultra-conservative allies. H.R. 3 would also impose tax penalties on employers and individuals whose private insurance policies happen to cover abortion care, potentially leading to IRS “abortion audits.”
If you think this savage attack on women’s health will stop with abortion, think again. Less than a month has passed since these same men nearly shut down the government to define contraception, pap smears and HIV screenings as equivalent to abortion care. Women will continue fighting back because our lives depend on it. These irresponsible men must not get away with acting as if voters sent them to Congress to make judgments endangering women’s health and lives.