A House Judiciary subcommittee debated today what constitutes federal funding of abortion, and not surprisingly no consensus was reached.
At issue is specific language in HR-3, a bill before the House called the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. In part, it prohibits any tax credits or tax deductions for "amounts paid or incurred for an abortion or with respect to amounts paid or incurred for a health benefits plan ... that includes coverage of abortion."
Democrats such as New York Rep Jerry Nadler say this amounts to a "huge tax increase" for people who "spend their own money on health insurance that covers abortion."
But the subcommittee's Chairman Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., contends tax credits and deductions are part of federal funding and says, "This legislation is really about whether the role of America's government is to continue to fund a practice that takes the lives of over one million little Americans every year."
The House bill would also make the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits taxpayer dollars from paying for abortions, permanent. Currently the amendment comes up for renewal each year.
Prior to the hearing, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, Michigan Rep. John Conyers, pointed to the Hyde Amendment and said HR-3 isn't necessary because "nobody is getting [federal funding for abortion] now...there is no federal funding for abortion." He said the new legislation is a "full-on assault against a family's private decisions."
If the legislation passes the House, it will face a steeper hill in the Senate. Already six pro-choice senators held a press conference to show they're ready to defeat this bill.
"I'm here with my colleagues to say, ‘Not on our watch. Not here in the Senate,'" said Patty Murray, D-Wash. " We're not going to stand by and watch while reproductive rights are threatened, and women's health is jeopardized again in this country. We are not going back in history."