|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
Invoking the mantra of fiscal restraint that has dominated House action since lawmakers reconvened last month, Republicans began committee work this week on two bills that would greatly expand restrictions on financing for and access to abortions. Another bill, one that would cut off federal dollars to women’s health care clinics that offer abortions, is expected to surface later this year.
Over and over, Democrats said that by bringing up the abortion issue now, Republicans were going back on their word to focus on the budget.
Yet the bills that have surfaced on the House floor this year have been fiscal in nature, including the repeal of the health care law, which was later rejected by the Senate, and some measures designed to cut spending.
“Republicans are focused on creating a better environment for economic growth and job creation,” said Kevin Smith, a spokesman for Speaker John A. Boehner, “and that is reflected in the legislation the House is passing,”
One bill, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” would eliminate tax breaks for private employers who provide health coverage if their plans offer abortion services, and would forbid women who use a flexible spending plan to use pre-tax dollars for abortions. Those restrictions would go well beyond current law prohibiting the use of federal money for abortion services.
The bill, sponsored by Representative Christopher H. Smith, Republican of New Jersey, has drawn fire over language that undercuts a longstanding exemption on the ban on using federal money for abortions in the case of rape or incest; the measure narrows the definition of rape to “forcible rape,” a term that his office has never defined. Democratic lawmakers and others repeatedly hammered on the term, saying it suggested that victims of statutory rape and other crimes could not get abortions paid for with federal money.
While Mr. Smith’s staff said last week that the term "forcible rape" would be removed from the bill, the staff of RepresentativeJerrold Nadler of New York, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, said that language remained intact as of Tuesday.
Another bill, sponsored by Mr. Pitts, addresses the health care overhaul head-on by prohibiting Americans who receive insurance through state exchanges from purchasing abortion coverage, even with their own money. The bill is essentially a resurrection of a provision in the House version of the health care law but was not in the Senate version.
The bill would also permit hospitals to refuse abortions to women, even in emergency situations, if such care would offend the conscience of the health care providers.