House Resumes War on Women, Rules Committee Tees Up H.R. 3 Vote

Last night, the House of Representatives Rules Committee rejected a series of amendments to Representative Chris Smith’s anti-choice legislation “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” (H.R. 3), resuming the House’s sweeping assault on women’s reproductive health following the 2011 budget debate. While the bill’s sponsors claim that it will “merely codify” federal insurance coverage of abortion services, the bill is radically broad and is clearly intended to prevent all women from obtaining health insurance coverage for abortion.  The bill denies any woman who receives her health insurance through Medicaid or other government programs coverage for abortion and tries to do the same to women in the private insurance market. Through tax penalties on insurance plans that cover abortion, the bill raises taxes on millions of American families and small businesses, and imposes intrusive new government rules on private, personal medical decisions. Last night’s amendment votes tee up a House floor vote scheduled for this Wednesday and draw a clear picture of the House majority’s efforts to roll back women’s rights and access to reproductive health services. The rejected amendments include:

An exemption for women with cancer who need life saving treatment incompatible with continuing the pregnancy from the requirements of the legislation relating to federal funding, health benefit plans and the limitations on federal facilities and employees.

A provision that would prohibit the bill from taking effect should it cause taxes for small businesses or individuals to increase.

A provision that would reinstate conscience protections for health providers who provide abortion services as well as those who do not.

A requirement for the Federal Trade Commission to promulgate rules declaring it an unfair or deceptive act for crisis pregnancy centers to advertise as abortion providers if they do not provide abortion services. Similarly, abortion providers would be prohibited from advertising that they do not provide abortions. Crisis pregnancy centers are facilities that often advertise under “abortion” or “clinics” when they are in fact, not medical facilities. They often offer misleading information about abortion — such as abortion causes infertility, breast cancer or suicide — in order to discourage women not to have an abortion.

“It’s certainly no surprise that the Rules Committee has rejected a series of amendments that attempt, in the most modest ways, to protect women’s health. Since the start of this year, they’ve shown their true agenda — attack women’s right and access to abortion, no matter the cost,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “We know the playbook here, now it’s time for our leaders to head them off at the pass. This bill is dangerous, misleading and will adversely impact millions of Americans.””This legislation will not do a thing to reduce the need for abortion services, but it will further scapegoat and endanger pregnant women living in poverty”, said Silvia Henriquez, Executive Director, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health.  “For many decades Latinas have been pushed into the shadows of healthcare by these bans, and this legislation makes this dangerous situation even more extreme by banning care even for women facing serious health issues such as cancer.”The Obama administration has released a statement, saying that his senior advisers will recommend that he veto the bill.

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