True to their pledge, but in defiance of the views of a majority of Americans, Republican leaders in the House of Representatives have introduced an anti-abortion bill that goes far beyond current law and beyond any other measure ever proposed to take private health care coverage away from women.
HR 3 was introduced by Rep. Christopher Smith, R-N.J., and 161 co-sponsors, including 10 Democrats. It was
misleadingly titled “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion.” Actually, it would go much farther than that. It would end insurance coverage for most abortions including private insurance coverage that Americans would pay for with their own money, even in some cases of rape and when a woman’s health is in danger.
A November poll by Hart Research Associates found that 74 percent of American voters “disagree with making women who choose to purchase private health insurance with their own money pay higher taxes if that includes abortion coverage.” Among voters who voted for a Republican candidate for Congress in 2010, 71 percent of voters disagreed with that part of the proposal.
The Smith bill would do precisely that. It provides that individuals who have health insurance coverage would no longer be able to claim existing tax deductions and credits for the cost of their health care.
As many as 4 million small businesses that offer their employees health insurance including abortion would no longer be able to claim the Small Business Health Credit. And self-employed Americans would no longer be able to claim a tax deduction for their insurance policy if it includes abortion coverage.
The extreme terms of the Smith bill go far beyond the terms of current federal law.
It states that health plans cannot receive federal funds if they provide coverage for abortion (except in limited cases of incest, rape, and when the pregnant woman’s life is in danger). The only exceptions would be if a pregnancy results from an act of rape or incest with a minor or if a physician certifies that a woman would be in danger of death unless an abortion was performed.
The bill’s blanket prohibition on government funding of abortions would apply any time federal money is involved in any federal, state, local or private activity even indirectly related to the provision of abortion.
The strict provisions would make abortion as hard to get as possible without criminalizing it in clear violation of Roe v. Wade, which was decided 38 years ago.
Congress should reject this extreme legislation.