Legislation which would permanently prohibit taxpayer funding of abortion across all federal programs is “one of our highest legislative priorities,” the new Speaker of the House has said in his introduction to the legislation.
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Reps. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) and Joe Pitts (R-Penn.) held a press conference on Jan. 20 to discuss the introduction of H.R. 3, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.”
Speaker Boehner said the new Republican majority is keeping its commitment to taxpayers by “ensuring their tax dollars are never used to fund abortions.”
He said an abortion funding ban is “the will of the people and ought to be the law of the land.”
Rep. Smith cited a Quinnipac University poll that found 67 percent of taxpayers oppose publicly funded abortion and a Guttmacher Institute study that shows when abortion is not publicly funded, abortions in the covered population are reduced by about 25 percent.
“Our new bill is designed to permanently end any U.S. government financial support for abortion whether it be direct funding or by tax credits or any other subsidy,” he continued.
While present federal funding regulations contain restrictions on abortion, many of these restrictions must be renewed annually.
Rep. Smith noted that the new bill also protects conscience rights of individuals and institutions by giving courts the authority to “prevent and redress actual or threatened violations of conscience.”
He cited the example of Cathy DeCarlo, a nurse at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York who was compelled despite her strong religious and moral objections to assist in a dilation and extraction abortion. Though she sued on the grounds that her right to conscience had been violated, her case was dismissed because federal law does not provide penalties for the way she was treated.
The U.S. bishops have urged the passage of legislation to amend the 2010 health care legislation called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to prevent it explicitly from either providing abortion directly, or funding health care plans and community health centers that do so.