An Assault on Women, and Everyone Else — H.R. 3

I have to say, I really don’t understand these right wingers sometimes. They’re always on about how they want the government to leave people alone, but they seem absolutely hell-bent on giving that same government the power to force a woman to stay pregnant against her will.

In that vein, the latest attack on a woman’s right to choose, which should be without question by now, but isn’t because the right has heretofore been allowed to control the debate, is a bill currently before the House. H.R. 3 is a bill that ostensibly makes it illegal for federal funds to be used for abortion.

Yes, we all know that the Hyde Amendment already does that, and has done so quite well for 35 years. But this bill isn’t about just forbidding federal funding for abortions. It goes much farther. In fact, it goes far enough that it might effectively outlaw abortion in the United States for most people.

That’s right, you guys; on January 20, 2011 while the rest of us were remembering the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of President John F Kennedy, the first Roman Catholic president, House Republicans were making like the papacy and proposing a back-door method to force women to stay pregnant against their will.  Worse, it could very well undermine the entire health insurance reform apparatus.

These people are sneaky as shit.

H.R. 3 is nasty.  Entitled the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” the bill was introduced by New Jersey Republican Christopher Smith, and now has 178 co-sponsors. And based on its current language, it would not only prohibit taxpayer funds to be used to pay for abortions directly, it would also prohibit the use of federal subsidies to buy any insurance policy that covers abortion.

Now, lest you think that only means a prohibition for those folks who opt into Medicaid, think again. This goes a hell of a lot farther, and could actually impact a lot of people, not just beyond women who choose to end their pregnancies.

Here’s the questionable language:


`None of the funds authorized or appropriated by Federal law, and none of the funds in any trust fund to which funds are authorized or appropriated by Federal law, shall be expended for health benefits coverage that includes coverage of abortion.


`For taxable years beginning after the date of the enactment of this section–

`(1) no credit shall be allowed under the internal revenue laws with respect to amounts paid or incurred for an abortion or with respect to amounts paid or incurred for a health benefits plan (including premium assistance) that includes coverage of abortion,

`(2) for purposes of determining any deduction for expenses paid for medical care of the taxpayer or the taxpayer's spouse or dependents, amounts paid or incurred for an abortion or for a health benefits plan that includes coverage of abortion shall not be taken into account, and

`(3) in the case of any tax-preferred trust or account the purpose of which is to pay medical expenses of the account beneficiary, any amount paid or distributed from such an account for an abortion shall be included in the gross income of such beneficiary.

The health care reform plan is using tax credits for small businesses to encourage them to provide insurance for their employees. Since most health insurance plans currently cover abortions, that would mean either dropping abortion from the health insurance plan or not taking the tax credits at all.  The language in this bill would actually make it illegal for a small business to take their tax credit if the insurance they provide to their employees includes abortion coverage.

But even if you have plenty of money, or you're self-employed, and you buy your own insurance plan, you could still be screwed, because based on the above provision, you could never claim your health insurance as a tax deduction, if that insurance plan covers abortion. Yes, men, that means even YOU would be breaking the law if you purchased health insurance for yourself and that insurance plan covered abortions. 

Not only that, but those of you with pre-tax medical savings accounts would have to pay taxes on any of the money you use to pay for an abortion.

The only subsidy this bill leaves intact is the one that allows employees whose employers pay most of their premiums from having to pay tax on the amount of that subsidy. Of course, this is how cowardly and unprincipled the far right is; since most health insurance policies cover abortions, they could have been accused of raising taxes on workers if they hadn’t written that particular exemption into the bill.

In other words, these people are against abortion on what they call "principle," but not enough to leverage higher taxes against it. Such incredibly principled people. 

The heartlessness of this bill doesn’t end with financial issues. While the Hyde Amendment forbids federal financing of abortions, except in cases of rape and incest, this bill limits the use of federal funds to incidents of “forcible rape,” but not statutory rape or “coerced” rape. Presumably, if you’re being raped, ladies, you’d better fight back or you’re stuck with your pregnancy. And, if your 14 year old daughter suddenly comes up pregnant, well, that’s just too bad, apparently, even if Daddy, Uncle Chris, or the family pastor did it. 

The bill also limits the use of federal funds for abortion for cases in which the death of the woman is imminent; other health problems that might be caused by having the child are not considered important enough, apparently. Doesn't matter if it might cause brain damage, or put her in a coma; if it doesn't kill her, too bad. It would also allow states to prohibit the use of government money in such emergency situations, as well.

There is also a separate bill in the House, H.R. 217, that would prohibit federal funds marked for family planning services to be given to any group that provides abortions as part of its service. This bill constitutes an all-out attack on Planned Parenthood, despite the fact that the organization does not use federal money to provide abortion services at all.

Now, I doubt that these bills will go past the Senate, and I would hope the President would veto such a bill.  But keep your eye on these bills, just in case. 

It’s time we took back this debate. The issue is not about "killing babies;” it’s about women having the right to decide what to do with their own bodies, and it’s about individuals and their doctors making their own medical decisions without government interference.  


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