Republicans’ vicious assault on a woman’s right to choose

In the Judiciary Committee, where I serve as the ranking Democrat on the Constitution Subcommittee, Republicans are advancing a bill, H.R. 3, the “No Taxpayer Funds for Abortion Act.” Despite the title, the bill has very little to do with federal funding for abortion. In fact, current law already prohibits federal funding to pay for abortion services. Since the late 1970s, no federal dollars have been spent to pay for an abortion unless a woman was a survivor of rape or incest, or if the woman’s life or health was in danger.

The real target of this deceptively named bill is the private insurance market. The 87% of families and businesses that now purchase insurance that includes abortion coverage would lose that option. The bill would take away all tax exemptions and credits for any insurance policy that covers abortion services, or for any expenditure for those services. It would use this giant tax increase to drive that coverage from the market entirely.

For our servicewomen around the world, H.R. 3 reminds them that they must roll the dice with whatever local, non-U.S.-affiliated medical facility they can find. For our federal employees, H.R. 3 reinforces the requirement that a family pay thousands of dollars out-of-pocket for an abortion, even when recommended by a doctor in the face of a severe fetal abnormality. For rape survivors, H.R. 3, as drafted, would require a woman to show that her rape was by force. As if there could be another kind. And for incest survivors, as soon as a young girl turns 18, she must pay on her own – even if she still lives in the same home as her abuser.

As if all of this were not bad enough, H.R. 3 goes one step further. Under this callous proposal, hospitals and doctors could refuse to perform an emergency abortion even in an instance where a woman’s life is at stake. If a state or local government required that these procedures be available in these life saving situations, the doctor or hospital could sue, and the state could lose its funding. Make no mistake about it: H.R. 3 has next to nothing to do with federal funds, but everything to do with controlling what Americans do with their own money.

With this bill, its supporters want to impose new taxes on businesses and families simply for including abortion coverage in their health plans – coverage approximately 87% of health plans currently include. With this bill, its supporters want to ensure that the government sits between families and their doctors. With this bill, its supporters want to control what families, employers, and businesses do with their own private funds.

At a time when all eyes should be on the economy, Republicans have shown that they care less about jobs, and more about stripping women and families of the ability to make private medical decisions with their doctors. It’s time we show Republicans what we care about. Stand with me – and with America’s women and families – by saying NO to H.R. 3.

Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) has served in Congress since 1992. He is the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, the subcommittee holding a Tuesday hearing this week on H.R. 3. He is a longtime pro-choice advocate and the past sponsor of the Freedom of Choice Act.