By Susan T. Muskett, J.D., Senior Legislative Counsel
Tomorrow, January 15, the U.S House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee will take up and vote on H.R. 7, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. This legislation is strongly supported by the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC).
HR. 7 would permanently prohibit subsidies for abortion and health insurance coverage of abortion in federal programs – both within longstanding federal programs and within the health care law signed by President Obama in 2010.
During last week’s hearing on H.R. 7, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) said that H.R. 7 would codify “the two core principles of the Hyde Amendment throughout the operations of the federal government: namely, a ban on federal funding for abortions, and a ban on the use of federal funds for health benefits coverage that includes coverage of abortion.”
For many years, the Hyde Amendment and other provisions on the annual appropriations bills have prevented federal funding of abortion through a patchwork of overlapping laws. But they must be renewed each year.
The need for enactment of H.R. 7 is all the more urgent due to ObamaCare. Pro-life efforts to apply the principles of the Hyde Amendment to the ObamaCare law were unsuccessful due to opposition from President Obama and the Democratic Senate majority. As a result, the enacted ObamaCare law contains multiple provisions authorizing funding of abortion and funding of health plans that cover elective abortion.
Moreover, in early October 2013, the Obama Administration issued a rulemaking allowing the federal government to purchase abortion-covering plans for Members of Congress and their staffs, which is something that no other federal employee is allowed to do. The rulemaking spells out how this transition will occur, without interrupting the contributions made by the government to the cost of such plans (approximately 75% of the premium cost). The rulemaking violates the Smith Amendment, which for most of the past 30 years has prohibited the U.S. Office of Personnel Management from any administrative involvement in purchasing any health plan for federal employees that covers abortion (except in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest). Research by the office of Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) found that of the 112 health plans available to Members of Congress and their staffs, more than 90 percent of the plans – 103 out of 112 plans – cover elective abortion.
Due to the actions of the Obama Administration, enactment of H.R. 7 is needed now more than ever.
A video of testimony by Professor Helen Alvare of George Mason University School of Law at last week’s hearing can be viewed here; a video of testimony by Richard Doerflinger on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops can be viewed here.
H.R. 7 currently has 152 co-sponsors. To view an always-current list of co-sponsors of H.R. 7, click here. The Senate companion bill, introduced by Senator Roger Wicker (R-Ms.), is S. 946, which has 25 co-sponsors. To view an always-current list of co-sponsors of S. 946, click here.