Playing Doctor with Americans’ Lives

3Doctors400Republicans, in both the House and the Senate, are currently colluding to gut Healthcare Reform and deny actual healthcare to millions of women across our nation using a process called Reconciliation.  Reconciliation is an expedited budgetary process that offers some procedural advantages: it needs only the support of a simple majority in the Senate, and cannot be filibustered. The bill they intend pass via reconciliation is HR3762, inappropriately named, “Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act” … it should be named “Butchering All Hope of Being Able to Afford Effective Healthcare Act.”

This reconciliation bill includes language to repeal key parts of Obamacare: the individual mandate, the employer mandate, the medical device tax and the ‘Cadillac tax.’ There are press posts saying that it will also end the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), but I can’t find such a provision in the bill.In addition, it would defund Planned Parenthood for one year

Defunding Planned Parenthood for a Year—

Here’s the section which specifically codifies the vilification of Planned Parenthood as a “Prohibited Entity” that just happens to provide “essential” healthcare for millions of women across our nation:

SEC. 202. FEDERAL PAYMENT TO STATES.
(a) In General.—Notwithstanding section 504(a), 1902(a)(23), 2002, 2005(a)(4), 2102(a)(7), or 2105(a)(1) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 704(a), 1396b(a)(23), 1397a, 1397d(a)(4), 1397bb(a)(2), 1397ee(a)(1)), or the terms of any Medicaid waiver in effect on the date of enactment of this Act that is approved under section 1115 or 1915 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1315, 1396n), for the 1-year period beginning on the date of the enactment of this Act no Federal funds may be made available to a State for payments to a prohibited entity, whether made directly to the prohibited entity or through a managed care organization under contract with the State.

(b) Definition Of Prohibited Entity.—In this section, the term “prohibited entity” means an entity, including its affiliates, subsidiaries, successors, and clinics—

(1) that, as of the date of enactment of this Act—

(A) is an organization described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and exempt from tax under section 501(a) of such Code;

(B) is an essential community provider described in section 156.235 of title 45, Code of Federal Regulations, that is primarily engaged in family planning services, reproductive health, and related medical care; and

(C) provides for abortions, other than an abortion—

(i) if the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest; or

(ii) in the case where a woman suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the woman in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself; and

(2) for which the total amount of Federal and State expenditures under the Medicaid program under title XIX of the Social Security Act in fiscal year 2014 made directly to the entity and to any affiliates, subsidiaries, successors, or clinics of the entity, or made to the entity and to any affiliates, subsidiaries, successors, or clinics of the entity as part of a nationwide health care provider network, exceeded $350,000,000.

[Emphasis mine]

Please note that the provisions to completely eliminate any funds for Planned Parenthood were proposed and recommended by the Ways and Means Committee currently led by Rep. Paul Ryan, that same Paul Ryan who will is expected to be elected as Speaker of the House next Wednesday — that is, unless the right wing extremists of the Republican Freedom Caucus renege and cast their votes for their beloved Rep. Daniel Webster instead.

Repealing the Individual and Employer Mandates —

Repealing individual mandate provisions are likely to increase, rather than decrease, the number of U.S. residents without health coverage, thus eliminating the progress that has been made in holding people responsible for their healthcare.  If the CBO forecasts are correct, the H.R. 3762 mandate repeal provisions could increase the number of uninsured U.S. residents by 55 percent to 65 percent. But, that’s okay with Republicans because for each person who doesn’t buy health insurance, the government doesn’t have to shell out $760-$815.  But they took it one step further.  To help their corporate benefactors, they also plan on repealing the mandates on employers to provide medical coverage.  Thus, ordinary Americans seeking to access affordable healthcare coverage for themselves and their families are going to rapidly find themselves up the proverbial creak, with no paddle, a leaky boat and no pail with which to bail out their boat.

The house voted on passage of HR3762 on Friday.  The vote was 240-189 with 5 Democrats not voting.  One Democrat (Peterson) voted for passage and ALL THREE of Nevada’s Congressional Republicans voted ‘AYE’ for passage! The bill is now off to the Senate, where it can be considered without a 60-vote cloture requirement (assuming the package passes muster with the Senate “Byrd Rule.”).

The Byrd Rule is a Senate rule that amends the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 to allow Senators, during the Reconciliation Process, to block a piece of legislation if it purports significantly to increase the federal deficit beyond a ten-year term or is otherwise an “extraneous matter” as set forth in the Budget Act.  It is named after West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) assessed the effects of HR3762 on long-term deficits and direct spending as follows:

  • Including macroeconomic feedback, CBO and JCT estimate that enacting the legislation would increase net direct spending as well as on-budget deficits by more than $5 billion in one or more of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2026.
  • Excluding macroeconomic feedback, CBO and JCT estimate that enacting the legislation would not increase net direct spending by more than $5 billion in either of the first two consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2026; however, the agencies are not able to determine whether enacting the legislation would increase net direct spending by more than $5 billion in the third or fourth 10-year period.
  • Excluding macroeconomic feedback, CBO and JCT estimate that enacting the legislation would increase on-budget deficits by more than $5 billion in one or more of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2026.

And because enacting the legislation would affect direct spending and revenues, ‘pay-as-you-go procedures‘ apply.

The President is then expected to veto, setting up the need for a veto-override vote in Congress.  In a statement promising Obama’s veto, the White House said the GOP measure “would take away critical benefits and health care coverage from hard-working middle-class families.”

However, a conservative revolt could derail the bill’s progress, as some conservative groups are opposing because the bill leaves some parts of ObamaCare intact


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It’s Women’s History Month—So Naturally—Republicans Wage Sneak Attack

By CAP Action War Room

The Latest Ploy in The Ongoing Attack on Women’s Health

PoisonPill08
GOP breaks out their favorite Poison Pill … Again!

Women’s access to basic health care continues to be under attack at both the state and federal level. The most recent threat came this week when Republican lawmakers in the Senate snuck anti-choice provisions into a bipartisan bill aimed at helping victims of human trafficking. The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015 (S. 178), which would establish a fund for victims of human trafficking, wasn’t supposed to be controversial. In fact, it enjoyed wide bipartisan support until Senate Democrats discovered that Republicans added language that would restrict federal funding for abortion–even forcing underage victims of rape to carry their pregnancies to term. Democrats have now vowed to hold the entire bill until the anti-choice language is removed.

The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act is just the latest attempt to restrict women’s reproductive rights on the national level. Unfortunately, actions on the state level are even worse. Last week, West Virginia Republicans overrode a gubernatorial veto and passed a 20-week abortion ban. With the veto override, West Virginia became the 11th state to prohibit abortions past 20-weeks, despite the fact that over the last few years courts have blocked several 20-week abortion bans for violating protections offered under Roe v. Wade. Montana and New Mexico are among other states considering 20-week bans under the guise of “fetal pain,” which scientists agree does not exist. And earlier this month, Wisconsin Governor and likely 2016 presidential candidate Scott Walker also said he would sign a 20-week ban.

While Democrats have been able to prevent anti-choice language from creeping into federal law thus far, these state-based corrosive efforts are working. A ThinkProgress investigation found that the maze of state abortion restrictions, usually framed as legal regulations, is driving the price of abortion services up so high that lower-income women are effectively priced out of the market. The attack on women’s healthcare has gone so far that a Texas Republican legislator has protested her colleagues’ proposal to cut funding for cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood clinics, saying that without that “provider network, women cannot be served. And they will die.”

BOTTOM LINE: From trying to shut down the Department of Homeland Security, to undermining international agreements with Iran, to voting 56 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the Republican Party has proven it is unfit to govern. These recent threats to women’s health are just another example of how out-of-touch and dangerous GOP policies can be.

As an aside:  Senator Heller has submitted an amendment (S.Amdt 283) to this bill, however, the text of his amendment has not yet been posted to Congress.gov.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.  Like CAP Action on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Ted Nugent Falls off His Rocker

The Republican nominee in the Texas gubernatorial race should know better than to embrace someone spouting racist and sexist views.

— by 

Jim Hightower

Ted Nugent, the old rocker from the Seventies, is now just plain old. And off his rocker.

A political novelty act for the far right and a front man for the National Rifle Association, Nugent regularly spews venomous, vulgar, race-laced, abusive hate speech about liberals, Democrats, gun laws, and creeping communism.

In January, for example, he tongue-lashed President Barack Obama. Nugent called our commander in chief a “communist-raised, communist-educated, communist-nurtured subhuman mongrel.”

ted nugent backs governor candidate abbott

Naturally, Greg Abbott — the Republican candidate for governor of Texas — promptly invited this scurrilous lout to come for a visit.

Abbott is currently the state attorney general. As a dyed-in-the-wool tea party extremist, he apparently thought it would juice up his far-out GOP flock to have the rabidly nutty Nugent come campaign with him.

Ted came. He embraced the gubernatorial wannabe as his “blood brother.” But the brotherhood gambit backfired.

Even Republican leaders wondered aloud why Abbott would, as one put it, “keep company with a noted misogynist and bigot.” In addition to Nugent’s disgusting “subhuman mongrel” slur, the old rocker has also admitted to being “addicted” to underage girls. But if that’s not out there enough, it’s well known to Vietnam Veterans across this country that Mr. Nugent managed to dodge the draft by physically and publicly crapping in his pants.

The issue, however, isn’t Nugent’s sordid character, but Abbott’s.

Hugging an infamous predator and hate-monger for political gain is both morally repugnant and politically stupid. Yet, Abbott continues to cling to Nugent’s embrace, tersely (and cluelessly) saying: “It’s time to move beyond this.”

A campaign aide even tried to paint Nugent’s endorsement as a positive: “We appreciate the support of everyone who supports protecting our constitution.”

Everyone, including sexual predators and overt racists? How about mass murderers?

Shouldn’t a candidate for governor — even in Texas — draw a sharper moral line?


OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown. OtherWords.org.  Photo Credit (Ted Nugent):  chascar/Flickr

POPVOX’s Countdown of the Top Bills in 2013


I frequently use POPVOX to explore information about a bill — what’s in the text of a bill, who introduced it, what other’s are saying about, who those others are (individuals and corporations/organizations) — and to write a letter of opposition or support to my elected representatives.  My observation is that the right-wing nut jobs have more of a propensity to support/oppose legislation than do reasonable folks.  Those of us who oppose the right-wing agenda need to become more active and vocal so our elected representatives in Congress understand they need to support us too — not just the very loud and radical right wing base.

Here’s a copy of an email I received today from POPVOX itemizing the top 50 bills that garnered the most activity on POPVOX during the first half of the 113th Congress:

by RACHNA on DECEMBER 31, 2013

Members of Congress introduced more than 6,600 bills and resolutions in 2013. The Second Amendment and gun control legislation dominated the top bills list, the majority of which were introduced in the beginning of the year. Not surprisingly, the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” was also a top priority among POPVOX users, and also the House has voted to repeal some or all of it nearly 50 times.  

The Countdown of the Top 50 Bills

Together, POPVOX users from every state and Congressional district sent more than 900,000 messages to their lawmakers in Washington. These are the top 50 bills and proposals that POPVOX users weighed in on with Congress in 2013, ranked by the aggregate number of combined support and opposition.

  • HR 321
    #50 Firearm Safety and Public Health Research Act

    Would allow the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct crucial scientific research into firearm safety, according to bill sponsor, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). 

    146 Support | 3,076 Oppose

  • HR 1369
    #49 Firearm Risk Protection Act

    Would require gun buyers to have liability insurance coverage before being allowed to purchase a weapon and imposes a fine of $10,000 if an owner is found not to have the required coverage; service members and law enforcement officers are exempt from this insurance requirement, according to bill sponsor, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).

    99 Support | 3,157 Oppose

  • HR 965
    #48 Banning Saturday Night Specials

    Would prohibit the possession or transfer of junk guns, also known as Saturday Night Specials.

    152 Support | 3,133 Oppose

  • HR 900
    #47 Cancel the Sequester Act

    A one-sentence bill that would cancel the sequester, or across-the-board federal spending cuts that were implemented in 2013.

    2,406 Support | 899 Oppose

  • HR 890
    #46 Preserving Work Requirements for Welfare Programs Act

    Extends the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program through December 2013 and overturns President Obama’s efforts to waive welfare work requirements, according to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA). This bill passed in the House on March 13, 2013, and is awaiting consideration by the Senate.

    3,208 Support | 120 Oppose

  • HR 1005
    #45 Defund Obamacare Act

    To deauthorize appropriation of funds, and to rescind unobligated appropriations, to carry out the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.

    2,905 Support | 478 Oppose

  • HR 1094
    #44 Safeguard American Food Exports Act

    To prohibit the sale or transport of equines and equine parts in interstate or foreign commerce for human consumption.

    2,727 Support | 707 Oppose

  • HR 61
    #43 Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act

    Would stop the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from providing federal family planning assistance under Title X to abortion businesses until they certify they won’t provide and refer for abortions, according to bill sponsor, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).

    934 Support | 2,513 Oppose

  • HR 431
    #42 Gun Transparency and Accountability (Gun TRAC) Act

    Would once again allow ATF to use information on guns traced to crimes; it would remove the requirement that background checks be destroyed within 24 hours; and it would eliminate the ban on federally required inventory audits of gun dealerships, according to bill sponsor, Rep. Jackie Speier(D-CA).   

    102 Support | 3,348 Oppose

  • HR 793
    #41 Firearm Safety and Buyback Grant Act

    Would establish a grant program within the Department of Justice in which grants would be eligible to state, tribal, and local units of government and law enforcement agencies to carry out anti-violence campaigns, gun safety campaigns, and firearms buyback programs, according to bill sponsor, Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA).

    98 Support | 3,370 Oppose

  • HR 2959
    #40 National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act

    To amend title 18, United States Code, to provide a national standard in accordance with which nonresidents of a State may carry concealed firearms in the State. This bill was passed by the House in the 112th Congress, but hasn’t been voted on in this Congress.

    3,106 Support | 385 Oppose

  • HR 236
    #39 Crackdown on Deadbeat Gun Dealers Act

    Would increase the ability of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to: Inspect federal firearms licensees (FFLs) for compliance with recordkeeping requirements by increasing the allowable inspections per year from one to three; Increase the penalties for knowingly misrepresenting any facts about a firearms sale; and Authorize the Attorney General to suspend a dealer’s license and assess civil penalties for firearms violations, including failure to have secure gun storage or safety devices, according to bill sponsor, Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI).

    184 Support | 3,319 Oppose

  • Guns
    #38 Toomey-Schumer-Manchin Amendment

    A bipartisan group of senators — Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen.Joe Manchin (D-WV) — introduced a compromise proposal to expand background checks. The proposal would require states and the federal government to send all necessary records on criminals and the violently mentally ill to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). It also extends the existing background check system to gun shows and online sales. The Senate rejected the proposal in a 54 to 46 vote on April 17, 2013 — six votes short of the 60 needed.

    197 Support | 3,343 Oppose

  • S 47
    #37 Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act

    To reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, and includes measures on campus safety, tools to reduce domestic violence homicides, and protections for at-risk groups such as immigrants, tribal victims and members of the LGBT community, according to bill sponsors, Sen. Patrick Leahy(D-VT) and Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID). This bill was enacted into law after being signed by the President on March 7, 2013.

    573 Support | 3,008 Oppose

  • S 374
    #36 Fix Gun Checks Act

    To ensure that all individuals who should be prohibited from buying a firearm are listed in the national instant criminal background check system and require a background check for every firearm sale.Reported by Committee on Mar 12, 2013, and is awaiting consideration by the full Senate.

    218 Support | 3,532 Oppose

  • HR 45
    #35 Repeal “Obamacare”

    To repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and health care-related provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. This bill passed in the House on May 16, 2013 by a 229-195 vote, and is awaiting consideration by the Senate.

    2,970 Support | 899 Oppose

  • HR 238
    #34 Fire Sale Loophole Closing Act

    Would prohibit gun dealers whose licenses are revoked to convert their inventory to personal collections, to be sold without conducting background checks on purchasers, under current law, according to bill sponsor, Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI).

    178 Support | 3,714 Oppose

  • HR 35
    #33 Safe Schools Act

    Would repeal federal laws mandating “gun free zones” around schools, according to bill sponsor, Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX).

    3,970 Support | 185 Oppose

  • HR 538
    #32 PLEA Act

    To protect the Nation’s law enforcement officers by banning the Five-seveN Pistol and 5.7 x 28mm SS190, SS192, SS195LF, SS196, and SS197 cartridges, testing handguns and ammunition for capability to penetrate body armor, and prohibiting the manufacture, importation, sale, or purchase of such handguns or ammunition by civilians.

    143 Support | 4,051 Oppose

  • HR 575
    #31 Second Amendment Protection Act

    Would prohibit funding to the United Nations unless the President can certify that a United Nations treaty does not infringe on individual rights protected by the Constitution, according to bill sponsor, Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX). 

    4,083 Support | 145 Oppose

  • HR 437
    #30 Assault Weapons Ban

    Would ban the future sale, transfer, manufacture and importation of 157 specific kinds of semi-automatic guns and impose the same restrictions on ammunition magazines that contain more than 10 rounds. Excludes 2,258 legitimate hunting and sporting rifles and shotguns by specific make and model, according to bill sponsor, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY).

    160 Support | 4,227 Oppose

  • S 815
    #29 Employment Non-Discrimination Act

    To prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. This bill passed in the Senate on November 7, 2013 by a 64 to 32 vote, and is awaiting consideration by the House.

    233 Support | 4,178 Oppose

  • HR 227
    #28 Buyback Our Safety Act

    To establish a gun buyback grant program.

    134 Support | 4,292 Oppose

  • S 2
    #27 Sandy Hook Elementary School Violence Reduction Act

    To reduce violence and protect the citizens of the United States.

    169 Support | 4,357 Oppose

  • HR 25
    #26 Fair Tax Act

    Would repeal all Federal corporate and individual income taxes, payroll taxes, self-employment taxes, capital gains taxes, the death tax, and gift taxes – and replace them with a revenue-neutral personal consumption tax, according to bill sponsor, Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA). 

    4,219 Support | 333 Oppose

  • HR 226
    #25 Support Assault Firearms Elimination and Reduction for our Streets Act

    To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow a credit against tax for surrendering to authorities certain assault weapons.

    143 Support | 4,488 Oppose

  • S 174
    #24 Ammunition Background Check Act

    To appropriately restrict sales of ammunition.

    187 Support | 4,769 Oppose

  • S 336
    #23 Marketplace Fairness Act

    Would give states the option to require the collection of sales and use taxes already owed under State law by out-of-state businesses, rather than rely on consumers to remit those taxes to the States—the method of tax collection to which they are now restricted, according to bill sponsor, Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY).

    205 Support | 4,861 Oppose

  • HR 137
    #22 Fix Gun Checks Act

    To ensure that all individuals who should be prohibited from buying a firearm are listed in the national instant criminal background check system and require a background check for every firearm sale.

    522 Support | 4,595 Oppose

  • S 147
    #21 Common Sense Concealed Firearms Permit Act

    To establish minimum standards for States that allow the carrying of concealed firearms.

    215 Support | 5,017 Oppose

  • S 34
    #20 Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act

    To increase public safety by permitting the Attorney General to deny the transfer of firearms or the issuance of firearms and explosives licenses to known or suspected dangerous terrorists.

    390 Support | 4,842 Oppose

  • S 22
    #19 Gun Show Background Check Act

    To establish background check procedures for gun shows.

    442 Support | 5,049 Oppose

  • S 82
    #18 Separation of Powers Restoration & Second Amendment Protection Act

    To provide that any executive action infringing on the Second Amendment has no force or effect, and to prohibit the use of funds for certain purposes.

    5,728 Support | 243 Oppose

  • HR 410
    #17 Restore the Constitution Act

    To provide that any executive action infringing on the Second Amendment has no force or effect, and to prohibit the use of funds for certain purposes.

    5,914 Support | 263 Oppose

  • HR 499
    #16 Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act

    To decriminalize marijuana at the Federal level, to leave to the States a power to regulate marijuana that is similar to the power they have to regulate alcohol.

    5,824 Support | 420 Oppose

  • S 35
    #15 Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act

    To require face to face purchases of ammunition, to require licensing of ammunition dealers, and to require reporting regarding bulk purchases of ammunition.

    308 Support | 6,558 Oppose

  • S 33
    #14 Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act

    To prohibit the transfer or possession of large capacity ammunition feeding devices.

    324 Support | 6,863 Oppose

  • HR 65
    #13 Child Gun Safety and Gun Access Prevention Act

    Raising the age of legal handgun ownership to 21.

    514 Support | 7,193 Oppose

  • HR 21
    #12 NRA Members Gun Safety Act

    To provide for greater safety in the use of firearms.

    536 Support | 7,770 Oppose

  • HR 34
    #11 Blair Holt Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act

    To provide for the implementation of a system of licensing for purchasers of certain firearms and for a record of sale system for those firearms.

    362 Support | 8,402 Oppose

  • HR 141
    #10 Gun Show Loophole Closing Act

    To require criminal background checks on all firearms transactions occurring at gun shows.

    1,406 Support | 7,591 Oppose

  • HR 2682
    #9 Defund Obamacare Act

    To prohibit the funding of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

    9,365 Support | 307 Oppose

  • S 150
    #8 Assault Weapons Ban

    To regulate assault weapons, to ensure that the right to keep and bear arms is not unlimited.

    633 Support | 9,409 Oppose

  • HR 142
    #7 Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act

    To require face to face purchases of ammunition, to require licensing of ammunition dealers, and to require reporting regarding bulk purchases of ammunition.

    617 Support | 9,508 Oppose

  • HR 117
    #6 Handgun Licensing and Registration Act

    To provide for the mandatory licensing and registration of handguns.

    553 Support | 9,619 Oppose

  • HR 133
    #5 Citizens Protection Act

    To repeal the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 and amendments to that Act.

    9,671 Support | 651 Oppose

  • HR 138
    #4 Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act

    To prohibit the transfer or possession of large capacity ammunition feeding devices.

    756 Support | 10,828 Oppose

  • S 744
    #3 Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act

    To provide for comprehensive immigration reform. This bill passed in the Senate on June 27, 2013 and is awaiting consideration by the House.

    1,385 Support | 10,212 Oppose

  • HJRes 15
    #2 Repealing the 22nd Amendment

    Proposing an amendment to the US Constitution to repeal the twenty-second article of amendment, thereby removing the limitation on the number of terms an individual may serve as President.

    151 Support | 12,984 Oppose

  • S 649
    #1 Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act

    To ensure that all individuals who should be prohibited from buying a firearm are listed in the national instant criminal background check system and require a background check for every firearm sale.

    304 Support | 14,110 Oppose

House Republicans Are Pushing A Bill That Would Force The IRS To Audit Rape Victims

BY TARA CULP-RESSLER

House Republicans Are Pushing A Bill That Would Force The IRS To Audit Rape Victims

women's health

PHOTO CREDIT: AP PHOTO/MIKE GROLL

House Republicans are currently advancing the “No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act,” or HR 7, a measure that would impose sweeping restrictions on abortion coverage that could make the procedure less affordable for Americans across the country. In addition to preventing low-income women from using their Medicaid coverage to access abortion, HR 7 could also have dramatic implications for the tax code and the private insurance market. One of its most controversial provisions could actually require the Internal Revenue Service to conduct audits of rape victims.

Why? Because HR 7 eliminates medical-expense deductions for abortion care, essentially raising taxes on the women who opt to have an abortion. Like many abortion restrictions, this provision includes an exemption for victims of rape and incest, as well as women who encounter life-threatening complications from their pregnancies. But in order to enforce those exceptions, the IRS would have to verify that the women who are claiming a medical-expense deduction for an abortion fall into one of those three categories, to ensure they’re not committing tax fraud.

Essentially, that would empower the government agency to have the final say over what “counts” as a sexual assault or a life-threatening situation. And that, in turn, would force victims to prove their case.

“Imagine having to recount a sexual assault — a horrifyingly painful, personal experience — to a tax collector,” NARAL Pro-Choice America says in an action alert to its members to encourage them to mobilize against HR 7. “An anti-choice bill in Congress would do just that. It could force sexual assault survivors who access abortion care to prove the assault occurred.”

That certainly sounds horrific. However, it’s important to remember that HR 7 is hardly the only piece of anti-choice legislation that sets up this dynamic.

The biggest political controversies over abortion policies throughout the past year have centered on rape victims, highlighting the anti-abortion laws that don’t extend any exceptions to them. It’s easy to see why the pro-choice community focuses on leveraging the outrage surrounding rape and abortion. Voters overwhelmingly favor legal abortion access for individuals who have become pregnant from rape, and policies that don’t fall in line with that seem especially callous.

But even when abortion restrictions do include some kind rape exception, as HR 7 does, the issues don’t end there. Exceptions for rape victims have some unintended consequences. They require some kind of system to separate the women who have become pregnant from sexual assault from the other women who want to end a pregnancy for a different reason. They essentially necessitate “rape audits.”

And in states across the country, that’s exactly what’s already occurring. The audits aren’t being conducted by the IRS, but they are being conducted by state officials.

Medicaid coverage for abortion services provides the best example of this. The Hyde Amendment, the policy that currently forbids low-income women from using their Medicaid coverage to help pay for abortion services, includes the same exceptions as HR 7 does. Thirty two states and the District of Columbia follow that federal standard for their local Medicaid funds — so, if the women who live there want to claim one of those exemptions, they already need to sufficiently prove why they deserve it. Some states require more proof than others. In 22 states, low-income rape victims who want to use their Medicaid coverage to pay for their abortion need to present a doctor’s note. Eleven other states require them to file a report with law enforcement or a social services agency. Last year, Iowa approved a law that requires the governor to personally approve each woman who’s seeking an exception to the Medicaid coverage ban.

Studies have found that these exceptions don’t operate as intended. Most rape victims who rely on Medicaid don’t actually end up getting reimbursed for the procedure, largely because of all the red tape. “Basically these exceptions don’t work. It’s really a myth that there is coverage that is still provided,” Stephanie Poggi, the executive director of the National Network of Abortion Funds, told the Washington Post.

Nonetheless, that hasn’t stopped state legislatures from moving forward with similar restrictions in other areas of the insurance industry. Outside of Medicaid, several states have already imposed abortion restrictions on the private insurance market that are similar to HR 7. And the health reform law has given states an opportunity to impose coverage bans on the procedure in their new insurance marketplaces.

We already live in a world in which navigating insurance coverage for abortion is so complicated that many women simply assume their insurer won’t pay for it, and end up financing the entire cost out-of-pocket. And we already live in a world in which victims of sexual assault are forced to prove the validity of their experiences to a skeptical society that doubts they’re telling the truth. We certainly live in a world that’s enacted nearly as many barriers to abortion access as humanly possible. Abortion restrictions that assume that some women’s reasons for terminating a pregnancy are somehow more valid than others exploits all of these dynamics. HR 7 fits neatly into this worldview — but it’s a continuation of a trend, rather than a brand-new outrage.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.