Tuesday, May 3, 2011

U.S. House readies for vote on No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act

Pro-life members of the House of Representatives are preparing to introduce legislation this week that could have an historic impact on the future of the pro-life movement.

HR 3, known as the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, would codify the Hyde amendment that is renewed every year in the Labor, Health and Human Services appropriations bills, making it permanent and applicable to the entire federal government. The Hyde amendment prohibits use of federal funds for abortions except in cases of rape or incest.

Sources on Capitol Hill say the bill is likely to be introduced on Wednesday. The bill has 218 sponsors in the House.

Ending taxpayer funding for abortion has proven consistently popular in American polls. A CNN poll this month showed that 61 percent of respondents opposed public abortion funding, a number consistent with data in recent years.

Faith Family Freedom Fund, a political action committee associated with Family Research Council Action, launched a radio ad campaign in 12 congressional districts today, calling on the U.S. House of Representatives to approve H.R. 3

“On Election Day, the American people made clear their opposition to using their hard- earned dollars to pay for abortions and most especially during a time of such economic turmoil,” said Faith Family Freedom Fund Chairwoman Connie Mackey.

“We call on these House Members to vote to ensure that American taxpayers are not complicit in a lethal assault on the most fundamental of all human rights - the right to life.”

Passage of a government-wide Hyde amendment became particularly urgent after President Obama’s health care reform was passed in March 2010; it deviates from the Hyde principle by allowing premium assistance credits to be directed to health insurance coverage that includes abortion.

In addition, the health care reform sets up new structures by which taxpayer funds could be channeled to abortion if the original Hyde amendment is eliminated in any budget bill - an explicit goal of the abortion lobby.

“The Obama administration has tried to muddle the message when it comes to ObamaCare’s coverage of abortion and his Administration’s support of taxpayer funding of abortion on demand,” said Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. “H.R. 3 sends the message that Americans are tired of these games: No taxpayer money for abortion, not here, not now, not ever. It is long past time that taxpayers get out of the abortion business.”

Some critics have accused the bill of attacking small businesses and others by disallowing tax credits for insurance plans that cover abortion.

“H.R. 3 is simply a slap in the face to the millions of small businesses now offering health insurance to employees and eligible for the new tax credits,” wrote Frank Knapp, President and CEO of The South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce, in an op-ed for The Hill on Monday.

However, pro-life leaders on the Hill point out that H.R. 3 is considered tax neutral, and was scored as having a negligible tax impact by the Joint Committee on Taxation. Americans for Tax Reform, a group that opposes tax hikes, has acknowledged that the lobby has “no problems or issues with H.R. 3,” which has “no net tax change whatsoever.”

Another of the arguments against the bill was voiced by NARAL Pro-Choice America, which blasted the legislation as “the rape-audits bill,” claiming that the bill’s language would “force sexual-assault survivors who choose abortion care to prove the assault occurred to the IRS.”

Pro-life leaders on the hill, however, say that the “rape audit” argument is a stretch, since tax returns do not prompt individuals to disclose the nature of a medical expense, and that other federal agencies such as Medicaid have not required special reporting to distinguish an abortion due to rape from other abortions.

Douglas Johnson, the legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee, urged the passage of the bill, pointing out that it would save countless lives. “By conservative estimate, more than one million Americans are alive today because of the Hyde Amendment,” he said. “If the principles of the Hyde amendment are applied in permanent, government-wide fashion, the lifesaving effects we have already seen will be multiplied.”

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