WASHINGTON – The House is poised to vote Wednesday on H.R. 3, the GOP's "No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act" -- and Republicans may have reignited an explosive controversy they swiftly backed down from at first.
The initial version of the legislation sought to limit government-subsidized abortion coverage even in some cases of rape and incest. Facing intense blowback, the "forcible rape" language was stripped out. Months went by, and the issue seemed settled.
But on Tuesday, Nick Baumann of Mother Jones reported that Republicans may be attempting a back-door maneuver to re-include those provisions. In short, they issued a committee report decreeing that H.R. 3 will "not allow the Federal Government to subsidize abortions in cases of statutory rape." Experts said that a judge could conceivably interpret that to deny federally subsidized care in some rape cases, even if the bill's language may suggest otherwise.
"The anti-choice House leadership faced fierce public backlash against the original 'redefining rape' fiasco," Nancy Keenan, president of the pro-abortion-rights group NARAL, told Raw Story. "Any attempt to reintroduce this outrageous provision would be unconscionable, and will only further galvanize Americans against anti-choice politicians who are wildly out of touch with the values and priorities of our country."
Proponents of the "forcible rape" language defend it as an attempt to prevent groups from utilizing federal funds for abortions based solely on the age of the mother.
The "No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act," last month secured enough co-sponsors to pass the House. Initially a top GOP priority, it was sidelined in part due to protracted debates over the fiscal 2011 funding resolution and long-term budget. It currently boasts 227 signatories.
Whatever the outcome of the "forcible rape" provisions, the measure is all but certain to die in the Senate. And in case it somehow squeezes by, the White House threatened to veto it Monday evening.
The broader impact of H.R. 3 would be to eliminate employer deductions for health insurance plans that cover abortion, effectively raising costs for businesses that provide abortion-inclusive health care for employees. The legislation could also deny Medicaid-based abortion care to women even if their health may be adversely affected by carrying the pregnancy to term.