House bars abortions for women in immigration detention facilities

The House approved language Friday to bar women in immigration detention facilities from receiving abortions in most cases. 

Planned Parenthood and other groups slammed the language, included in a $46 billion bill to fund the Homeland Security Department, saying it was unnecessary. Republicans have said they wanted to make U.S. policy toward detention camps consistent with U.S. policy toward prisons, which already forbid most abortions for inmates.

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The spending bill was approved along party lines Thursday and has little chance of surviving in the Senate. 

Its abortion rider was proposed by Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) and includes an exception for abortions sought because of rape, incest or a pregnancy that threatens the mother's life. 

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, called the provision "unnecessary and redundant."

"Legislation on critical U.S. national security funding is an inappropriate forum for opponents of women’s health to have injected ideological politics into the debate," Richards said in a statement.

"Abortion language had no business in this legislation."

Republicans in Congress — particularly those in the House — have aggressively pursued Planned Parenthood with investigations and attempts to block its federal funding. The measure approved Friday would specifically bar Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for using its funds for abortions that fall outside of that exception. The measure also states that no ICE employee is obligated to "perform or facilitate in any way … any abortion."

An ICE spokeswoman told The Associated Press that the agency has not paid for abortion services since it was created.

The Center for Reproductive Rights said Aderholt's measure forces the United States to deny its "moral and legal responsibility to protect the fundamental human rights of all women in its custody."

"The House has turned its back on immigrant women in United States custody by failing to provide them with the basic reproductive health care services," Nancy Northup, the group's president and CEO, said in a statement.

"The Senate must make up for the House’s failure and immediately reject this callous measure."

This story was updated at 2:32 p.m.