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January 20, 2011

House Leadership Puts Anti-Choice Attacks Ahead of Jobs and the Economy

“Stupak on Steroids” proposal gets top billing, one day after House votes to repeal health-reform law

Washington, D.C. – Today, Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said House leadership confirmed that attacking a woman’s right to choose will be a top priority in the new Congress. The proposed “Stupak on Steroids” bill received the designation H.R.3, signaling its importance to the anti-choice leadership.

“The news today is from Capitol Hill, but it might as well have come from another planet,” Keenan said. “As candidates, these lawmakers told voters they wanted to focus on creating jobs while limiting the role of government in our lives. Now, as these politicians take control of the House, they want to be able to interfere in our personal, private decisions, especially a woman’s right to choose. They are out of touch with our country’s values and priorities. What happened to the jobs agenda? How many people will be employed as part of their campaign to attack a woman’s right to choose?”

The politicians who “headlined” the event where the bill was introduced came from both political parties, including Rep. Dan Lipinski, an Illinois Democrat, and Republican Reps. Chris Smith of New Jersey and Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania. Pitts was hand-picked by anti-choice groups to serve as chair of the Energy and Commerce health subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over many programs important to women’s health.

Keenan said H.R.3, introduced by Rep. Smith, if identical to last summer’s version, is even worse than the original Stupak ban on abortion coverage that was rejected during the debate on health reform. Keenan said Smith’s far-reaching bill would undermine women’s freedom and privacy in a number of ways:

  • It would ban coverage of abortion in the new health-care system and impose tax penalties on Americans with private insurance plans that include abortion coverage.  Currently, 87 percent of private plans currently include such coverage.
  • It would narrow the already severely limited rape and incest exceptions in the Hyde amendment, which bans federal funding for abortion care. This new restriction would deny Medicaid coverage for abortion to survivors of statutory rape and any incest survivor who is 18 years of age or older
  • It would reimpose the ban on Washington, D.C.’s use of its own local funds for abortion for low-income women, an unfair restriction which Congress lifted in 2009, and a move that President Obama supported. 
  • It would recodify the ban on abortion care for women in the military, denying them access to abortion care at overseas military hospitals, even if they pay for the service with their own money. 

Keenan also said that Speaker John Boehner and his top lieutenants cosponsored “Stupak on Steroids” in the previous Congress. Boehner’s “Pillars of a New Majority,” a compilation of five speeches that outline his vision for the country, includes a speech before the National Right to Life Committee in which he praises the legislation.

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