The House of Representatives moved by a vote of 251-175 to further limit federal funds from being used to provide abortions Wednesday.
The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act codifies into law the so-called "Hyde Amendment," which prohibits federal funds in appropriations bills from being spent on abortions. The bill goes further than Hyde by withholding health care tax credits for insurance plans that cover abortions. Under the health care law passed in 2010, low income families can receive tax breaks to help purchase private insurance.
In addition to funding limits, the bill includes a conscience clause, which allows health care providers to refuse to perform abortions if they are morally opposed to the procedure.
"Today we seek to end taxpayer complicity in abortion violence," said Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., the act's sponsor, "(This bill) permanently and comprehensively cuts federal funding and facilitation of abortion."
Pro-choice lawmakers said that the proposal goes too far. "Federal funding for abortion is already prohibited," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., "This bill places restrictions on how women with private insurance can spend their private dollars in purchasing health insurance."Pelosi also said that the conscience clause contained in the proposal could endanger women, who may require an abortion in a medical emergency.
Though the bill passed easily in the House, a similar measure, set to be introduced by Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Thursday, faces an uphill battle in the Democratically-controlled Senate.
The White House has also threatened to veto the legislation if it makes it to the president's desk.