On January 20, 2011, U.S. Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) introduced HR 3, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions Act” in the House of Representatives. The bill has 173 sponsors, including Speaker John Boehner.
The bill would codify the Hyde Amendment, which Congress has re-authorized every year since 1976. It prohibits Medicaid, the health insurance program for low-income Americans, from covering abortion care except in three narrow circumstances: if the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest, or the life of the woman is endangered. Changing it from an amendment to a law on its own, as HR 3 would do, would make it much harder for the restrictions on abortion access for low-income women to be lifted.
HR 3 would also dramatically change the status quo on Medicaid funding for abortions needed because of rape by only covering abortions caused by “forcible rape.” We’ve testified before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs about the need for federal authorities to update and broaden their definitions of rape to more accurately reflect the rape victims’ reality, and this bill is a step in the absolute wrong direction. For example, if it passes, girls who are victims of statutory rape and need to terminate their pregnancies will not receive Medicaid coverage to do so. Nor will their parents be able to pay for the procedure through health savings accounts, as Nick Baumann writes at Mother Jones magazine:
Given that the bill also would forbid the use of tax benefits to pay for abortions, that 13-year-old’s parents wouldn’t be allowed to use money from a tax-exempt health savings account (HSA) to pay for the procedure. They also wouldn’t be able to deduct the cost of the abortion or the cost of any insurance that paid for it as a medical expense.
The bill would also only allow incest victims under the age of 18 to receive Medicaid coverage for abortion, completely ignoring adult victims of incest.
HR 3 is an outrage. Shakesville has great resources for getting involved in stopping this bill from passing, including a link to write to your representative and join the Twitter campaign against it.