Hoyer says abortion bill violates GOP principles

Hoyer also criticized language in the bill that would prevent insurance policies bought through the state insurance exchanges created by last year's healthcare law from including abortion coverage. He said this goes against the Republican belief in allowing people to make their own choices without government intrusion.

"Republicans come to this floor and speak all the time about keeping government out of people's lives," he said. "But this bill does exactly the opposite."

He added that this language would prevent people from using their private money from making their own choices.

"It's their money, but you don't allow them to use their money for that purpose," Hoyer said. "Now you are saying to the private sector… you can't use your money. You can't have it both ways."

Democrat arguments such as these were used to blunt Republican claims that the bill is mostly aimed at ensuring federal funds are not used for abortion in any of the programs created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Earlier in the day, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the bill goes far beyond that goal, and would impose new limitations on women's right to abortions.

The House was expected to approve the bill Thursday night, after debate ends.

More in Senate

GOP senator blocks veterans' suicide prevention bill

Read more »