Press Releases

GOP Pushes Through Attack on Women

Washington, DC, May 5, 2011

Today, the Republican House Majority voted to limit women’s access to affordable health care, by a vote of 251-175.  On the House Floor, Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) led the Democrats in the debate against H.R. 3, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions Act,” denouncing the bill as a government intrusion on women’s private health care decisions.   

Below is an excerpt of Mr. Conyers’ floor speech:

H.R. 3 is an attack on women and will undermine women’s access to safe, legal and comprehensive health care.  This legislation reaches far beyond federal funding. It subjects women to profound government intrusion, restricts women’s access to health care, and targets small businesses for disparate treatment under the tax code.

H.R. 3 will punish women for their private health care decisions and will subject them to profound government intrusion. While the bill contains exceptions for rape, incest, or the life of the mother, women will be required to PROVE these exceptions to the IRS.  Under current law, a woman need not prove the necessity or reason behind a medical procedure to the IRS.  However, under H.R. 3, women will be subjected to IRS audits to substantiate the reasons for this very personal health care decision.  As if suffering a brutal sexual assault that resulted in pregnancy were not enough, now a woman will need to prove this trauma to the IRS.

I would also note that the Majority has not been entirely forthcoming about the so called rape exception.  The term “forcible rape” was changed to “rape” during  the committee mark up.  However, the Majority stated in the accompanying legislative report that the rape exception DOES NOT include statutory rape.  This means that if the Majority gets their way a 12 year old girl who is impregnated by a 52 year old sexual predator she meets on the Internet would not be included in the rape exception.              

The goal of H.R. 3 is to make it impossible to obtain abortion services even when paid for with purely private, non-Federal funds.   H.R. 3 seeks to achieve this by, among other things, imposing an unprecedented tax penalty on individuals and businesses who use their own money to pay for abortion or to purchase insurance that would cover abortion.

While the bill's sponsors claim that sections of the bill will preserve the right to use one's own funds to contract for and purchase insurance that covers abortion, section 303(1) would make it impossible for many women, families, and businesses to do so.  Finally, H.R. 3 subjects small businesses to disparate treatment under the tax laws. It includes a devastating attack on small businesses, just when we are on the brink of economic recovery. 

H.R. 3 denies small employers the ability to use tax credits created by the Affordable Care Act if health coverage provided to employees includes abortion services, but contains no similar restrictions on medium and large businesses.  The burden is placed only on the smallest employers. 

Just this week, the president of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce wrote in The Hill newspaper that, "H.R. 3 is simply a slap in the face to the millions of small businesses now offering health insurance to employees and eligible for the new tax credits."  Rather than addressing the immediate and pressing needs of our country, we are engaged today in the charade of forcing members to vote on legislation that has already been pronounced dead on arrival. 

There is little chance that the Senate will consider this bill.  And so, I can only conclude that the Majority is here today to attack women and their private health care decisions merely for sport.