It’s been great to see so many people speak out about the GOP’s attempt to redefine what kind of rape qualifies for federal funding of abortion in the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” (HR 3). As a pro-choice activist who is constantly looking to bring more people into this movement, it’s been awesome to see so many new faces get pissed off and take action. As a result, the GOP has decided to drop “forcible” and revert back to existing language around exceptions (ALL rape, incest and life endangerment).
Yay. Well, kind of.
The thing is, with or without the “forcible” rape language, the bill is still AWFUL. And we should all continue to mobilize against its passage. Don’t let the Republicans message this as a fair “compromise” we should all readily accept. After all, compromise requires actually trying to reach across the aisle, not some manufactured negotiation. Like the awesome blogger Digby wrote,
"But I suspect the heinousness of this latest attack is no accident. The conservatives understand the art of negotiation and I think they have put this provision in there for the express purpose of creating a firestorm, drawing the attention of the pro-choice groups and then "reluctantly" giving it up in exchange for the Democrats giving in on all the other, less sexy, changes they really want.”
In other words, we’ve got big fights ahead. The “forcible rape” language was just a start.
In language we’ve seen time and again, authors of the No Taxpayer bill claim that they are just writing into law what is the “status quo,” that no taxpayer dollars should be used to cover abortion. They (including the President) say this as if everyone believes that taxpayer dollars should not be used to cover abortion, as if Roe v. Wade makes abortion accessible to all women who want an abortion. False aaaaaaaaaand BIG false. Roe, while incredibly important in our nation’s history, made a procedure legal, NOT accessible. For many low-income and middle class women, one of the reasons abortion is not accessible is because it’s expensive. As in VERY expensive, especially in these economic times. According to the National Abortion Federation:
“In general, though, women getting an abortion between six and ten weeks’ gestation can expect to pay about $350 at an abortion clinic and $500 at a physician’s office. Providing abortions later in pregnancy is somewhat more complicated, and is usually more expensive. For example, at 16 weeks gestation, abortion clinics generally charge around $650 and physicians’ offices generally charge around $700. After the 20th week, the cost rises to above $1,000.”
And no, Planned Parenthood does not have millions of dollars at their disposal to pay for an abortion for everyone who needs one. And BIG no, not all Planned Parenthood clinics even provide abortions. (Had to throw that in, I hear it ALL THE TIME).
Back to the point. Paying for an abortion out of pocket is EXPENSIVE. And putting into law that federal dollars cannot be used to pay for abortion is basically telling poor women to take a hike, they’re out of luck. Denying access to abortion services for poor women is JUST like Roe never happened. This is why there ARE many who push back against this so-called “status quo” language because we believe that taxpayer dollars SHOULD be allowed to pay for abortions so that ALL women have access to this service that is a part of women’s basic healthcare.
But that’s not the only reason this bill is AWFUL. Not only are they going after poor women, but middle class women who have access to insurance as well.
In this new version of the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” anti-choicers have decided to go after which insurance consumers decide to purchase. According to Third Way, a super middle ground non-partisan organization,
“the bill would raise taxes on self-employed people, who are currently able to deduct the cost of their health care plans from their taxable income. Under the bill, any plan that covers abortion would no longer be tax-deductible for those who are self-employed. Americans would also be barred from using their own Health Savings Accounts or other similar tax-exempt accounts for abortion-related services. These changes would levy huge tax increases on Americans for simply retaining the same insurance coverage they currently have.”
So much for Republicans purporting to be the “champion” of consumers keeping their old insurance. And what about all that language about protecting small businesses from tax hikes? Or keeping the government out of our private lives? What is more private than deciding what is included in your healthcare plan? PS-87% of private insurance plans cover abortion…in case you were wondering.
And there’s more!
This redefinition of what exactly is “taxpayer funding” could have implications that stretch way beyond abortion. By jumping into tax law and deciding that taxpayer funding for abortion would include dollars that individuals could deduct when purchasing insurance out of pocket, they could be saying that anytime the government allows things to be tax exempt, the government is paying for it. Want to know what’s one of the biggest tax exempt groups in the country? Churches. As Third Way notes,
“by labeling tax exemption as “federal funding,” it could even potentially threaten tax exemptions for churches and other religious institutions by transforming those exemptions into government support for those entities.”
So much for separation of church and state.
Finally, according to Jessica Arons at Center for American Progress, the bill would also step on DC’s ability to rule itself by denying the use of OUR (yes, I live here) taxdollars from being used for abortion AND “Forbid any facilities owned or operated by the federal government and any individuals employed by the federal government from providing abortion care.”
So while there are MANY reasons to oppose this law, I hope that we all are on board with opposing the ENTIRE BILL instead of picking and choosing pieces that may be whittled away once the media blows up those pieces. Why? Because we should be pissed about the whole damn thing. It’s bad for women. It’s bad for our country. And weren’t these Representatives elected to focus on jobs and the economy anyway?