House Passes Dangerous Bill That Would Deny Insurance Coverage For Abortion Services

May 4, 2011 12:00 am

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Legislation Has Serious Implications For Women’s Health

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WASHINGTON – A dangerous bill, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 3), was passed today by the House of Representatives. The legislation targets women who rely on the government for their health care and seeks to permanently deny them coverage for a pregnancy-related health care service. The bill also advances an aggressive campaign to take away insurance coverage millions of women already have and manipulate the tax code to intrude on a woman’s and her family’s private medical decisions. The American Civil Liberties Union denounced passage of the bill.

“This bill is an all-out attack on basic health care for women,” said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “Among the bill’s many failings is its exclusion of insurance coverage for abortion where a woman’s health is at risk. A pregnant woman who learns that she has cancer or another serious disease should be able to make the best decision to protect her health. Though we may not all feel the same way about abortion, we can agree that a woman should not be denied insurance coverage for care she needs, especially when her health is threatened.”

H.R. 3 is a multi-pronged and deeply misguided measure that attacks women’s access to abortion. It manipulates the tax code so as to penalize millions of Americans by taking away tax credits to small businesses that offer insurance plans that cover abortion along with other pregnancy-related care and by precluding families from deducting medical expenses related to abortion. The bill would make permanent a provision that violates the District of Columbia’s autonomy and forbids it from choosing whether to use its own locally-raised, non-federal dollars to provide abortion coverage for its low-income residents.

Each year, Congress must consider several provisions on appropriations bills that single out and exclude abortion from a host of programs that fulfill the government’s obligation to provide health care to certain populations including Native Americans, federal employees, Peace Corps volunteers, poor women and women in federal prisons. H.R. 3 would make these provisions permanent. These abortion riders should be repealed – not made into permanent law – because they are discriminatory and harm women’s health.

“This bill represents a new assault on women’s access to care, but it is premised on the same shameful disregard for and interference in women’s lives as past efforts,” said Vania Leveille, ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel. “Congress should focus on protecting and expanding people’s access to care, not imposing additional barriers and restrictions. This legislation should have been rejected by the House of Representatives and we will work to ensure that the Senate does exactly that.”

The bill would also take away insurance coverage for abortion that millions of women already have. H.R. 3 goes after abortion access in the private insurance market by resurrecting former Rep. Bart Stupak’s (D-MI) insurance coverage ban in the health care exchanges, which was debated and defeated in the last Congress. Currently, a majority of insurance plans offer abortion coverage alongside other pregnancy-related services, labor and delivery, prenatal care and care for miscarriages. The Stupak coverage ban would virtually eliminate abortion coverage within the exchanges.

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