House panel votes to limit abortion under Obama's healthcare law

House Republicans on the Appropriations Committee voted Wednesday to place new restrictions on access to abortion under President Obama’s healthcare reform law.

The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.), extends an existing ban on federal funds being used to pay for abortions and on federal employee health plans that cover abortion.

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The provision would have the effect of preventing the government’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM) from negotiating and setting up a multi-state health insurance plan that covers abortion in the healthcare exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act. The law specified already that one of the two multi-state plans set up by OPM must not offer abortion. 

The amendment was approved in a party line vote of 28 to 20.

Democrats said the prohibition will limit the access of women, especially poor women, to private health insurance that covers abortions.

Reps. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) argued that the amendment is “mean-spirited” and part of a Republican “war on women.”

“Extremists are hell bent on denying health services,” Lowey said.

The GOP said that there is nothing “mean-spirited” about protecting unborn children.

“This is about promoting life,” Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.) argued.

The Financial Service bill also extends a provision in current law to prevent the District of Columbia from spending its own funds on abortion.

An attempt by Lee to strip out the D.C. provision failed 21 to 26. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) broke with Republicans on the panel and joined Democrats in voting for it.

— This story was updated at 2:15 p.m.


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