Republicans have recently introduced bills in the House of Representatives and Senate aimed at reducing women’s right to reproductive health services, or eliminating access to abortions altogether.
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MI) proposed legislation Tuesday to recognize that life begins at the moment of conception and is entitled to legal protection from that point forward. The bill, known as “The Life at Conception Act,” seeks to terminate the protections for abortion created by the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade.
“This is the latest example of hypocrisy from politicians who said they want less government in our lives yet propose bills like this one that would open the door to more political interference in our personal, private decisions,” Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said in a statement. “If this bill resembles past versions, it would ban abortion — even in cases of rape or incest — and threatens to outlaw birth control.”
With a Democratic president and Democrats still in control of the Senate, the controversial bill has little chance of becoming law. Attempts by Sen. Wicker to pass The Life at Conception Act in previous sessions of Congress have so far been unsuccessful.
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), chairman of the House Pro-Life Caucus, introduced another bill in the House of Representatives that would limit access to abortions by expanding federal restrictions on abortion funding. The bill currently has 173 co-sponsors, most of whom are Republican.
The “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” which was given the designation HR 3, would impose a prohibition on all federal spending for abortion care, deny federal subsidies to private health insurance plans that cover abortions, and impose tax penalties on those who pay for abortion care.
It would greatly expand the restrictions on federal funding for abortion created by the Hyde Amendment, which was passed by Congress in 1976.
The legislation, which House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said was one of his highest legislative priorities, would prevent public health insurance options like Medicaid from covering abortions as well as penalize private insurers for providing coverage for abortions.
“It would insert itself into every crevice of government activity and prohibit even private and nonfederal government funds from being spent on any activity related to the provision of abortion any time federal money is involved in funding or subsidizing other, nonabortion-related activities,” the Center for American Progress warned in a memo.
“Taken to its logical conclusion,” the memo continues, “this line of thinking would prohibit roads built with federal funds from passing by abortion clinics, drugs developed by the National Institutes of Health or approved by the Food and Drug Administration from being used at abortion clinics, or medical students with government loans from receiving abortion training—all because such uses could be viewed as ‘subsidizing’ abortion with federal dollars.”
“We have pledged to institute a permanent, government-wide prohibition on taxpayer funding of abortion, a bill at the top of our agenda in the House,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said Monday during the annual March for Life.
The measure, similar to a recent GOP-lead repeal of Democrats’ health reform laws, was seen as largely symbolic and stood virtually no chance of passing Congress.
To keep Congress running, taxpayers shelled out over $5.42 billion in fiscal year 2010, according to the Congressional Budget Office. That figure works out to nearly $15 million every single day.