On January 20, 2011, two pieces of legislation that would prohibit the use of federal tax dollars for abortions and abortion coverage were introduced in the House of Representatives. Both bills are scheduled for committee hearings this week.
I. H.R. 3: “The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act”
H.R. 3, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” was introduced by Pro-life Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Dan Lipinski (D-IL).
H.R. 3 would establish a permanent government-wide prohibition on federal funding for abortions and abortion coverage. The bill would also codify conscience protections for health care providers who do not want to participate in abortions.
For decades, restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortions have been enacted separately and have been contained in appropriations riders (like the Hyde Amendment, which must be renewed annually and only applies to certain appropriations), regulations (which can be overturned by new administrations), and executive orders (which exist at the will of a president). H.R. 3 would eliminate the struggle that prolife Congressmen face every year to ensure that federal funds are not used for abortions, by enshrining this principle in federal statutory law.
The House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on the Constitution will be holding a hearing on H.R. 3 on Tuesday, February 8, 2011.
II. H.R. 358: “The Protect Life Act”
H.R. 358, the “Protect Life Act,” was introduced by Energy and Commerce Committee Health Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) and Dan Lipinski (D-IL).
H.R. 358 would amend the new health care reform law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), by prohibiting the use of any funds in the PPACA for abortions or abortion coverage. It would also protect health care providers from discrimination on the basis that they do not want to participate in abortions. Finally, it would prohibit the federal government from requiring private insurance companies to cover abortion, thereby closing a loophole created by the PPACA.
H.R. 358 is modeled after the Stupak-Pitts Amendment that was included in the House version of health care reform, but was excluded in the Senate and in the final law. It would correct the mistake that Congress made in enacting health care reform without a comprehensive prohibition on the use of federal tax dollars for abortions.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Health will be holding a hearing on H.R. 358 on Wednesday, February 9, 2011.