U.S. House Passes Pro-life Bill During March for Life

Yesterday during the National March for Life in Washington, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on and passed H.R. 7, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.”  The legislation, sponsored by Representative Chris Smith (R-New Jersey), passed the House by a vote of 242-179.  Missouri Congressional Representatives Graves, Hartzler, Long, Luetkemeyer, Smith, and Wagner voted in favor of passage, while Representatives Clay and Cleaver voted against.The bill would codify the “Hyde Amendment,” which was first passed after the Roe v. Wade decision in the early 1970’s.  The Hyde Amendment prevents taxpayer dollars from being used to pay directly for abortions, or to pay for health plans that include abortion coverage.  Pro-life legislators were unsuccessful in their efforts to get “Hyde” language included in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010.

Now that the ACA is in place, federal tax credit subsidies are being made available to income-eligible citizens purchasing health plans through the health insurance exchanges, including health plans that include abortion coverage.  This means that these federal tax credit subsidies currently help people pay for health plans that include abortion, something not permitted by the Hyde Amendment (note: the ACA prevents the subsidies themselves from being used to pay for the abortion coverage).

“H.R. 7 also requires health plans under the Affordable Care Act to provide full disclosure on their abortion coverage to consumers,” said Cardinal O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities. “This lets Americans choose health coverage that reflects their values.  Just as most Americans do not want their tax dollars used for abortion, they do not want their own health coverage misused to pay for abortions.  I hope the U.S. Senate will take up this important legislation soon.”

The bill now proceeds to the U.S. Senate, where it appears there are not the 60 votes needed to prevent a filibuster, and so the bill is unlikely to receive an up or down vote.  In addition, President Obama’s office issued a statement soon after the House vote threatening to veto the bill if it were to reach his desk.

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