Throughout the campaign, we listened to one Republican after another rant about less Government and getting Government out of our lives … and that if elected to Congress, that’s exactly what they’d do. Even more specifically, they didn’t think Government should have any say in what happens between any person and their personal doctor. Well, that was then, and this is now and what we’re seeing is just another rendition of … “Do As I Say, Not As I Do.”
If you bought into any of that rhetoric, you’d better start paying closer attention to what those same Republicans are doing, now that they’ve been elected. They’re ramping up the culture war they’ve been waging against women and this time, they’re putting the pedal to the metal. This week, two vicious attacks on womens’ rights will receive hearings on Capitol Hill via committee consideration of two bills: HR3 and HR 358.
Tomorrow, members of the Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the deceptive, HR3, “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” (aka, the Smith Bill). On Wednesday, the Energy and Commerce Committee will have a hearing on HR 358, the so-called “Protect Life Act” (aka, the Pitts Bill).
HR 3, introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), currently has 173 Co-Sponsors. It would permanently deny abortion coverage, as well as many other reproductive services, for low-income women, federal employees, and military women AND effectively prevent private employers from covering these services as well. It also has a provision that changes the tax code such that if your private health insurance plan provides abortion coverage, your premiums for that healthcare coverage will NOT be tax deductible, nor will any coverage expenses you incur for such procedure. But, if that isn’t enough, it incorporates an egregious “conscience clause” (Section 311) that would allow hospitals, doctors, pharmacists, and even receptionists to refuse to provide many womens’ reproductive health services that might offend their personal conscience … and I’m not just talking abortions. I’m talking morning after pill, invitro fertilization, etc. up to and including the dispensing (or not dispensing) of birth control pills. When did it become appropriate for someone else’s religious beliefs to trump not just your beliefs, but maybe your health, or your life? If that’s not government intrusion into one’s personal life, I’d like someone to define just exactly what that is!
HR3 prohibits the expenditure of funds authorized or appropriated by federal law or funds in any trust fund to which funds are authorized or appropriated by federal law (federal funds) for any abortion. Prohibits federal funds from being used for any health benefits coverage that includes coverage of abortion. (Currently, federal funds cannot be used for abortion services and plans receiving federal funds must keep federal funds segregated from any funds for abortion services.)
Disallows any tax benefits for amounts paid or incurred for an abortion or for a health benefits plan that includes coverage of abortion, including any medical deduction for such amounts or any credit for such an employer-sponsored plan.
Prohibits the inclusion of abortion in any health care service furnished by a federal or District of Columbia health care facility or by any physician or other individual employed by the federal government or the District.
Provides that such prohibitions shall not apply to an abortion if: (1) the pregnancy is the result of forcible rape or, if the pregnant woman is a minor, incest; or (2) the woman suffers from a physical disorder, injury, or illness, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself, that would place her in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, as certified by a physician.
Makes such prohibitions applicable to District funds.
Creates a cause of action for any violations of the abortion provisions of PPACA. Gives federal courts jurisdiction to prevent and redress actual or threatened violations of such provisions by issuing any form of legal or equitable relief, including an injunction or order preventing the disbursement of all or a portion of federal financial assistance until the prohibited conduct has ceased. Gives standing to institute an action to affected health care entities and the Attorney General.
Requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to designate the Director of the Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to receive, investigate, and refer to the appropriate federal agency complaints alleging a violation of PPACA abortion provisions.
HR358, introduced by Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-PA), currently has 100 Co-Sponsors. It would bar insurance plans in the new healthcare system from providing abortion coverage to anyone who receives aid from the government. It would also allow virtually any healthcare entity to refuse to provide, cover, pay for, or even refer patients for abortions. HR 358 also includes a Conscience Clause.
HR358 amends the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) to prohibit federal funds from being to used to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion services. (Currently, federal funds cannot be used for abortion services and plans receiving federal funds must keep federal funds segregated from any funds for abortion services.) Requires any qualified health benefit plan offered through an Exchange that includes coverage for abortions to also offer a qualified health benefit plan through the Exchange that is identical in every respect except that it does not cover abortions.
Prohibits a federal agency or program and any state or local government that receives federal financial assistance under PPACA from requiring any health plan created or regulated under PPACA to discriminate against any institutional or individual health care entity based on the entity’s refusal to undergo training in the performance of induced abortions, require or provide such training, or refer for such training.
Creates a cause of action for any violations of the abortion provisions of PPACA. Gives federal courts jurisdiction to prevent and redress actual or threatened violations of such provisions by issuing any form of legal or equitable relief, including injunctions and orders preventing the disbursement of all or a portion of federal financial assistance until the prohibited conduct has ceased. Gives standing to institute an action to affected health care entities and the Attorney General.
Requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to designate the Director of the Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to receive and investigate complaints alleging a violation of PPACA abortion provisions.
Requires the Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to ensure that no multistate qualified health plan offered in an Exchange provides coverage of abortion services.
If you’re a supporter of women’s rights, it’s vitally important that come out strong against these bills. Write a letter to your newspaper’s editor, write a blog article or two, and most of all, call or write to Rep. Dean Heller and tell him that politicians have absolutely no business coming between a woman and her private medical decisions!
Let there be no confusion about these bills. Their interest is to put their religious beliefs above yours, their main target is women, and their goal is to intrude on how women make decisions about their own medical care. This is not the United States of Stepford, it is, however, the United States of America. Please stand up and let your voice be counted amongst those trying to STOP these attacks before they can subjugate womens’ health concerns to anybody else’s religious teachings or beliefs other than the woman herself.
- 2/3/2011, CNN: House Republicans drop controversial ‘forcible rape’ language
- 2/4/2011, TPM: New GOP Bill Would Allow Hospitals To Let Women Die Instead Of Having An Abortion
- 2/7/2011, WP: After ‘forcible rape,’ another abortion restriction
- 2/3/2011, NARAL: New Bill, New Problems for Anti-Choice Politicians
- 2/4/2011, The Hill: Conscience rights debate reignited by abortion funds bill
- 1/20/2011, CAP: Extreme Abortion Coverage Ban Introduced
- 2/3/2011, TPM: Democratic Reps. Unimpressed With New House Abortion Bill