GOP pushes different abortion bill
With thousands of abortion foes massing blocks away for their annual protest march, Republicans pushed legislation toward House passage yesterday tightening restrictions on federal financing of abortions that the White House quickly threatened to veto. But it was not the bill an embarrassed GOP had hoped to approve.
Republican leaders had wanted to approve legislation criminalizing most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, a measure that had also drawn a threatened veto. Late Wednesday, they abruptly postponed the confrontation indefinitely after concluding they were short of votes.
Instead, the House began debating legislation barring taxpayer funding of abortions - a prohibition that's already largely in place. Republicans say the bill will tighten the restrictions to make sure no funds flow to abortions under President Barack Obama's health care law. It is the same as a measure the House approved last year on a near party-line vote.
"Conscientious pro-life Americans who don't want to be complicit in the wounding of women and killing of babies are paying for abortions, and many of them don't even know it," said Rep. Christopher Smith, R-N.J., a longtime abortion opponent.
Democrats mocked the GOP's failure to rally support behind the measure barring late-term abortions but said sarcastically that Republicans seemed to have unlimited numbers of bills curbing the procedure.
"Can't pass this one? Grab another. Can't pass that one? Grab the next one," said Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y. "Their insistence on attacking women's health seemingly knows no bounds."
BANNING THE USE OF FEDERAL MONEY
The bill would permanently ban the use of federal money for abortions - a prohibition that's already in effect but that Congress must renew each year.
It would also go further. It would bar individuals and many employers from collecting tax credits for insurance plans covering abortion that they pay for privately and purchase through exchanges established under the health care law. It would also block the District of Columbia from using its money to cover abortions for lower-income women.
In its veto message, the White House said, "The administration strongly opposes legislation that unnecessarily restricts women's reproductive freedom and consumers' private insurance options."
The action came the day of the annual March for Life protesting the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. It also came with GOP leaders eager to showcase the ability by the new Republican-led Congress to govern efficiently and avoid gridlock.