President Obama addressed Congress this week in his 6th State of the Union address with a substantive list of legislative priorities the American people need Congress to act on. Rather than focus on these issues and the many more that Americans need – from immigration reform, to unemployment insurance extensions for the long term unemployed, investments in our human and physical infrastructure, and a jobs package that will grow our economy from the middle out – House Republicans are refighting the social wars of the 1990’s, again.
Forty-one years after Roe v. Wade first secured women the right to choose, House Republicans have brought to the floor H.R. 7, the deceptively titled “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” as one of their first pieces of legislation this year. This attempt to roll back the clock on women’s rights is their 49th attempt to undermine the Affordable Care Act. They refuse to acknowledge the benefits of the law for their constituents, undermine its implementation, and continue to mislead the American public about its effects.
H.R. 7 goes needlessly and harmfully past already existing restrictions on the the use of federal funds for abortions. Originally introduced in 2011, this bill was initially derided for its effort to redefine the federal definitions of rape and incest – definitions which I had thought were clear to many. House Republicans however are intent to double down on their war on women by reintroducing it this Congress.
Under H.R. 7, small businesses will be stripped of their ACA-created tax credits if they are used to pay for health coverage that includes abortion services. The most likely result of this is that no small business employer will offer such coverage. A similar threat exists for those women buying their coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplaces. H.R. 7 ensures that no family can receive a premium tax credit if they enroll in a plan that covers abortion. Not only will this block access to affordable health plans for millions of Americans, forcing them to purchase plans only House Republicans deem fit, but over time, no policies covering abortion services by private insurers will be offered in the Marketplaces.
As if these restrictions weren’t enough, H.R. 7 goes on to block abortions even in instances where one is necessary to protect a woman’s health and seeks to have health plans intentionally mislead their consumers, by lying about additional charges for these services that are in fact covered entirely by private funds.
President Obama outlined many of the challenges and opportunities we face in the coming years and highlighted the need for a progress-oriented Congress to do its job and pass legislation that grows our middle class to help American families. This is not one of those challenges. Current law already prevents the use of taxpayer funds for abortions. This is nothing more than a mean spirited attack on women’s rights that shows House Republicans remain intent on derailing health care for millions of Americans.