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An Anti-Choice Wishlist for the New Congress

Written by Robin Marty for - News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

The anti-choice movement spent a great deal of time and money in campaigning for Republican candidates that would flip the leadership of the House from Democrat to Republican control in 2011.  Focusing primarily on the weakest candidates, anti-abortion Democrats running in conservative districts, groups like National Right to Life and the Susan B. Anthony list managed to create a new army of Republicans who owe their seats to the funding and backing of anti-choice activists.

Now those activists want their payback.

Via Lifenews, the anti-choice Republican groups have created a wishlist of the "top priorities" for congress once the new members are sworn in.  For the most part, the list is unsurprising -- it is legislation that they have been pushing for nationally for years, and advocating for and often passing on a state by state basis.

At the top of the list is the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act." Introduced in July by Republican Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey, the Act prohibits:

(1) the expenditure of funds authorized or appropriated by federal law or funds in any trust fund to which funds are authorized or appropriated by federal law for any abortion or for health benefits coverage that includes coverage of abortion;
(2) any tax benefits for amounts paid or incurred for an abortion or for a health benefits plan (including premium assistance) that includes coverage of abortion; and
(3) the inclusion of abortion in any health care service furnished by a federal health care facility or by any physician or other individual employed by the federal government. Exempts from such prohibitions an abortion if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest with a minor, or if the woman suffers from a physical disorder, injury, or illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the women in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself. Makes such prohibitions applicable to federal funding within the budget of the District of Columbia. Prohibits federal agencies or programs and states and local governments that receive federal financial assistance from discriminating against any individual or institutional health care entity on the basis that such entity does not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions. Designates the Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to receive, and coordinate the investigation of, discrimination complaints.

The essentially makes the Hyde Amendment into a permanent rule, rather than one that must be renewed once a year in order to continue.  It also would extend the Amendment beyond medicaid to all health plans in all branches of any form of government.  And it would provide a permanent conscience clause that would allow insurers to opt out of abortion coverage even if the mother's health were in danger, or a victim of rape or incest, as well as allow medical workers to opt out of any assistance in providing an abortion as well. Read more

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