(WOMENSENEWS)--The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act approved by the U.S. House on Wednesday night extends a ban on abortion insurance coverage that currently applies to low-income recipients of Medicaid to virtually all U.S. women.
It's doubtful that it will pass the Senate, report various media outlets, so it stands little chance of becoming law.
Its far-reaching provisions, however, provide a stark look at how anti-choice lawmakers are exploiting health reform for this agenda. This bill might not pass, but another effort, at an 11th hour, might.
Federal rules that bar federal funding for abortion services currently require annual reauthorization. This bill would make them permanent.
But it would go much further than preserving that status quo.
By revoking tax breaks for employers whose insurance plans cover abortion, it would make it very difficult for any employer to choose such a plan--or for insurers to even offer it. Nearly 90 percent of private insurance policies currently cover abortion, so this bill would take the bottom out of health care financing for abortion.
It also would prevent all military-hospital abortion services overseas, even if an enlisted woman wanted to pay for the procedure out of pocket, Ms. Magazine reported earlier this week.
Outrage Pouring Forth
Expressions of outrage have been pouring forth.
"This bill is yet another example of the House majority's disregard for the importance of accessible health care for women and the wishes of the citizens of Washington, D.C.," said Michael Keegan, president of People for the American Way. "Rather than address the many complex issues facing our nation, House Republicans are choosing to threaten women's constitutional rights by attacking choice and preventive care, and they are taking every chance they get to force their social priorities on the people of Washington, D.C."
Dr. Douglas Laube, board chair for Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health, wrote in a press statement that "The House of Representatives showed a reckless disregard for the health of millions of Americans."
The bill is an all-out attack on basic health care for women," said Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office, in a statement.
"Among the bill's many failings is its exclusion of insurance coverage for abortion where a woman's health is at risk. A pregnant woman who learns that she has cancer or another serious disease should be able to make the best decision to protect her health. Though we may not all feel the same way about abortion, we can agree that a woman should not be denied insurance coverage for care she needs, especially when her health is threatened," she said.
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