In a 251 to 175 vote this evening, 16 anti-choice Democrats joined every House Republican present in passing H.R. 3, the No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act. A chief weapon in the House GOP’s “comprehensive assault” on women this bill proposes some of the most radical and draconian restrictions on women’s rights. They include:
— Redefinition Of Rape: The bill sponsor Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) faced serious backlash after he tried to narrow the definition rape to “forcible rape.” By narrowing the rape and incest exception in the Hyde Amendment, Smith sought to prevent the following situations from consideration: Women who say no but do not physically fight off the perpetrator, women who are drugged or verbally threatened and raped, and minors impregnated by adults.
Smith promised to remove the language and while it is not technically in the bill, Mother Jones reports that House Republicans used “a sly legislative maneuver” to insert a “backdoor reintroduction” of redefinition language. Essentially, if the bill is challenged in court, judges will look at the congressional committee report to determine intent. The committee report for H.R. 3 says the bill will “not allow the Federal Government to subsidize abortions in cases of statutory rape” — thus excluding statutory rape-related abortions from Medicaid coverage.
— Tax Increase On Women And Small Businesses: H.R. 3 prevents women from using “itemized medical deductions, certain tax-advantaged health care accounts or tax credits included in last year’s health care law to pay for abortions or for health insurance plans that cover abortion.” In doing so, the bill forces women and small businesses that provide health insurance that covers abortion to pay more in taxes than they would otherwise. Both economic conservative Grover Norquist and the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce noted that the bill is basically a tax increase.
— Rape Audits: Because H.R. 3 bans using tax credits or deductions to pay for abortions or insurance, a woman who used such a benefit would have to prove, if audited, that her abortion “fell under the rape/incest/life-of-the-mother exception, or that the health insurance she had purchased did not cover abortions.” Essentially, the bill turns Internal Revenue Service agents into “abortion cops” who would force women to give “contemporaneous written documentation” that it was “incest, or rape, or [her] life was in danger” that compelled an abortion.
— Bans D.C.-Funded Abortions: The most recent spending resolution contained a ban on abortions in the District of Columbia by redefining the D.C. local government as the federal government. Thus, health clinics in D.C. are banned from using public funds from D.C. taxpayers to provide abortion services. H.R. 3 “would enshrine the District ban into federal law.” According to the Office of Management and Budget office, such a restriction violates “home rule.”
Despite receiving nearly 135,000 signatures in opposition to the bill, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and the House Republicans leveled a serious blow on American women and their right to choose. Some Republicans even suggested holding the debt ceiling increase hostage over the passage of H.R. 3. The bill, however, is unlikely to pass as a standalone in the Democratic-led Senate. President Obama has also threatened to veto the bill.