White House bashes GOP abortion bill

The White House expressed strong opposition Monday to a House Republican bill that would eliminate tax credits for private health plans that cover abortion, among other provisions.

Set to receive a vote this week, the measure from House Republicans is intended to broaden and make permanent a longstanding ban on taxpayer funding for abortion.

The Obama administration, voicing its opposition, said the legislation "unnecessarily restricts women's reproductive freedom" and meddles with consumer choice.

"Longstanding federal policy prohibits the use of federal funds for abortions," the White House said in a Statement of Administration Policy.

"This prohibition is maintained in the Affordable Care Act and reinforced by the President's Executive Order 13535. [The Republican bill] would go well beyond these safeguards by interfering with consumers' private health care choices."

The wide-ranging legislation was authored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), one of the House's most vocal opponents of abortion rights, and is backed by GOP leaders.

It is expected to come to the floor on Wednesday. President Obama's advisers would recommend a veto, if the measure passed both chambers, said Monday's statement, stopping short of a full veto threat.

The vote will mark the first abortion-related move by the House in 2014, a year that has already seen debate over how much the GOP ought to emphasize women's health issues ahead of the midterm elections.

In addition to enacting a permanent Hyde Amendment, the rider typically renewed each year that bans federal funding for abortion in relevant programs, Smith's bill prohibits government doctors and facilities from performing abortions.

The measure also prohibits funds appropriated by Congress from paying for abortions in the District of Columbia. The White House criticized this provision as interfering with the city's tradition of "home rule."

Supporters of the bill argue current federal law does not introduce enough distance between taxpayer money and coverage for or provision of abortion.

The measure includes exceptions in the case of rape, incest and threats to the woman's life.