Appropriators spar over DC, ObamaCare abortion restrictions

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Just as philosophical debates on abortion hinge on nuanced arguments over when life begins and what constitutes the right to privacy, the funding debate focused on several nuanced debates about what it means for something to be federally funded. 

Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-N.Y) offered an amendment to remove the ObamaCare language but it was defeated 27 to 21

“This language punishes women by forcing them out of the exchanges simply for choosing plans that cover reproductive services,” Lowey said.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) called the provision part of the GOP’s “sustained ideological assault on women’s health.”

Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.), who authored the ObamaCare language, argued that it is consistent with existing Hyde Amendment language that prevents federal tax-dollars from being used to pay for abortion.  

He said that taxpayers are paying the salaries of federal officials administering the exchanges and this amounts to paying for the eventual abortions. 

Democrats argued that the private insurance companies would be paying for any abortions and the federal officials were just running exchanges to encourage price competition between plans. 

Rep. Mike Quigley  (D-Ill.) tried and failed to get an amendment approved to end the DC abortion funding ban. 

Democrats argued that Congress should stop using the District as a “playground” for ideology.

“Frankly it’s a real slap in the face to the residents of the District,” Lowey said.

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) argued that it was consistent with the Hyde amendment given the District’s special status.  Even though the District was granted limited home rule in the 1970s, its budget is still officially appropriated through the Financial Services bill. 

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