(CNSNews.com) - Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), along with about 70 other House Democrats, introduced a bill in Congress on Wednesday that would provide taxpayer-funded abortion coverage to all women who are covered by an insurance plan through the federal government - including federal workers, military members, women incarcerated in federal prisons, and low-income women covered by Medicaid.
The Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Coverage Act, or EACH Woman Act, states that “The Federal Government shall (1) ensure coverage for abortion care in public health insurance programs, including Medicaid, Medicare and the Children’s Health Insurance Program” and “in its role as an employer or health plan sponsor, ensure coverage for abortion care for participants and beneficiaries.”
The bill also mandates that all health care facilities that are contracted by the government provide abortion services.
Additionally, the bill seeks to impose a requirement that state and local governments “shall not prohibit, restrict or otherwise inhibit insurance coverage of abortion care by private health plans.”
The bill goes on to state, “It is the sense of Congress that (1) the Federal Government, acting in its capacity as an insurer, employer, or health care provider, should serve as a model for the Nation to ensure coverage of abortion care; and (2) moreover, restrictions on coverage of abortion care in the private insurance market must end.”
In a press release issued shortly after the bill was introduced, Lee called for a repeal of the Hyde amendment, which she labeled as a “harmful” policy that “restrict a woman’s ability to make the best healthcare decisions for herself and her family.”
“Each and every day, the rights of women are under attack in America,” Lee said in the release. “Today, we push back because every person has a right to healthcare.
“The EACH Woman Act is a bold and groundbreaking step forward,” she continued. “This legislation would ensure that every woman can access ALL of her healthcare options, regardless of how much money she earns or where she lives.
“Regardless of how someone personally feels about abortion, none of us, especially elected officials, should be interfering with a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions just because she is poor,” Lee added.
The EACH Woman Act was met with praise by dozens of abortion advocate groups, including Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL) and the National Organization for Women.
Millions of Americans are currently covered by insurance plans funded by the federal government, including those covered by Medicaid and Medicare, federal employees, military members and those incarcerated in federal prisons.
The use of taxpayer dollars to fund abortion coverage is currently prohibited by the Hyde Amendment, which is usually attached as a rider to annual appropriations bills. The amendment has been in effect since 1976, and specifically prohibits any taxpayer funding to go toward any health coverage that includes abortion services.
The amendment expressly states: “None of the funds appropriated in this Act, and none of the funds in any trust fund to which funds are appropriated in this Act, shall be expended for health benefits coverage that includes coverage of abortion.”
The amendment also includes exceptions for abortions done in cases of rape, incest or a threat to life of the mother.
President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act (ACA), or Obamacare, however, does allow health care plans that include abortion coverage to be set up on the federal insurance marketplace, which is subsidized by taxpayers.
The law then seeks to skirt the Hyde Amendment by requiring federally subsidized health insurance plans that do cover abortion to apply a separate surcharge to each plan for those services. These funds then go into a separate pot from the tax dollars and are used to pay for abortion services.