With the House of Representatives set to take up a bill the lower chamber's leaders say would assure no federal funding is allocated for abortions, the Obama administration released a statement opposing it but reiterated its position that an executive order already keeps taxpayer funded abortions from being included in the Affordable Care Act.
"The President's Executive Order ... reinforces that Federal funding cannot be used for abortions (except in cases of rape or incest, or when the life of the woman would be endangered) and ensures proper enforcement of this policy," the statement from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) reads. "H.R. 358 goes well beyond the safeguards found in current law and reinforced in the President's Executive Order by restricting women's private insurance choices."
The OMB statement criticizes H.R. 358, also called the Protect Life Act, saying it is too heavy handed and restricts the reproductive rights of women.
"The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 358 because ... the legislation intrudes on women's reproductive freedom and access to health care and unnecessarily restricts the private insurance choices that women and their families have today," the statement reads.
The bill's sponsor says the president's executive order banning federal money for abortions in the health care bill isn't strong enough and that the Protect Life Act will clarify the issue. Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Pa., said the executive order can be rescinded at any time and that his legislation would make the ban permanent.
"If we wish to respect the views of those who don't want their money used to finance abortion, if we wish to follow the wishes of the 60 to 70 percent of Americans who believe the government should not pay for the procedure-then Congress should send this bill to the President in short order," Pitts said during a February subcommittee hearing on the bill.
But the White House still contends the bill is too overbearing as it seeks to go further the president's executive order and the statement says his advisors will recommend a veto. The House is expected to vote on the bill Thursday.