Bipartisan Lawmakers Introduce Bills to Stop Govt Funding of Abortion Through Obamacare

By Penny Starr | January 20, 2011 | 3:37 PM EST

Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) ( photo/Penny Starr)

( - Two House Republicans and one Democrat have introduced legislation intended to prevent taxpayer dollars from paying for abortions under the health care bill signed into law by President Barack Obama last year.

The two bills introduced on Thursday are the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” (H.R. 3) and the “Protect Life Act.”

Reps. Smith (R-N.J.) and Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), co-chairmen of the Bipartisan Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, and Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), chairman of the Health Subcommittee on Energy and Commerce and the Values Action Team, said the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which the House voted to repeal on Wednesday, would be “the largest expansion of abortion funding since Roe v. Wade,” the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States.

The health care law does not include a comprehensive prohibition on abortion funding but instead “contains accounting gimmicks that explicitly allow funding for abortion coverage,” Rep. Smith said in a press release.

Smith said President Obama’s executive order addressing the issue “reiterates those accounting gimmicks.”

In one case, as reported by in July, the federal government has given the state of Pennsylvania $160 million to set up a high-risk insurance pool that will cover any abortion that is legal in the state.  This funding contradicted President Obama’s claim that his executive order -- issued around the same time he signed the health-care law -- would prevent funds disbursed under the bill from paying for abortions.

At a press conference on Thursday, Reps. Smith, Lipinski and Pitts explained the need for their bills:

“The health care law made it clear that the current way we prevent taxpayer funding of abortion through annual riders is dangerously fragile,” Lipinski said. “We must take action to prevent federal funding for abortion under the health care law and throughout the government, without exception.”

“I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to guarantee we abide by a principle supported by the overwhelming majority of Americans: that no federal taxpayer dollars should be used to pay for abortion,” Lipinski said.

Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-Pa.). ( Starr)

“Today, with the full and unequivocal support of Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor, more than 150 Members of Congress have joined us to introduce the ‘No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,’ a government-wide prohibition on taxpayer subsidization for abortion and conscience protections with durable remedies,” said Representative Smith.

“President Obama has said he wants abortion to be rare,” Smith said. “To Mr. Obama I say, ‘Here is a bill for you.’”

The “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” would eliminate the need for numerous, separate, annual abortion funding prohibitions (riders) during the appropriations process and make certain that no other program or agency is exempt from this safeguard, according to the explanation of the bill in a Thursday press release.

The “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” would also reinforce the Hyde-Weldon conscience clause of the Hyde Amendment, which ensures that recipients of federal funding do not discriminate against health care providers, including doctors, nurses and hospitals, because the providers do not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.

The “Protect Life Act,” would amend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to ensure that no federal funds pay for elective abortion, prevent any federal agency from mandating abortion, and protect the conscience of healthcare workers.

Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.)

“It is imperative that the federal government stays out of the business of subsidizing the morally objectionable practice of abortion,” Congressman Pitts said. “President Obama, himself agreed with these goals, and even issued an Executive Order trying to prove his support for prohibiting federal funding for abortion. If he chooses to stand by his word, he should have no problem signing both these bills into law.”

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called H.R. 3 “one of our highest legislative priorities.”

“Today we’re here to talk about keeping another commitment to the people – and that is ensuring their tax dollars are never used to fund abortions,” Boehner said at a separate press conference that followed the one to introduce the legislation.

“A ban on taxpayer funding of abortion is the will of the people and ought to be the law of the land,” Boehner said.  “But current law, particularly as enforced by this administration, does not reflect the will of the people.”