House Holds Hearing On Bill That Would Further Limit Insurance Coverage For Abortion Care

March 16, 2011 12:00 am

Media Contact
125 Broad Street
18th Floor
New York, NY 10004
United States

Ways And Means Committee Considers Anti-Abortion Tax Penalties

CONTACT: (202) 675-2312;

WASHINGTON – The Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee of the House Committee on Ways and Means today heard testimony on proposed changes to the tax treatment of expenses related to abortion services contained in the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 3). The bill was introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and would greatly limit women’s access to insurance coverage for abortion by further entrenching discriminatory laws that deny abortion care to women enrolled in Medicaid and other federal health care programs while also extending these unjust prohibitions into the private sector.

“Rep. Smith’s bill is an attack on women’s health,” said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union Washington Legislative Office. “It is a cruel attempt to control and penalize personal health care decisions by manipulating the tax code. The government has no business intruding on a woman’s private and personal health care decisions in this way.”

The Smith bill rewrites long-standing tax laws to penalize a single, legal medical procedure: abortion. For example, it penalizes small business employers who offer insurance coverage to their employees by taking away their tax credit if the comprehensive plans they offer include abortion.

The Smith bill is a broad measure that would also permanently deny abortion coverage to women and families who rely on the federal government for their health insurance. Each year, Congress must consider several provisions on appropriations bills that single out and exclude abortion from a host of programs that fulfill the government’s obligation to provide health care to certain populations including Native Americans, federal employees, Peace Corps volunteers, poor women and women in federal prisons. Rep. Smith’s bill makes all of those provisions permanent, greatly harming millions of women who receive health care services through these programs, including low-income women of color who are disproportionately impacted by these provisions.

Currently, a majority of insurance plans offer abortion coverage, along with other pregnancy-related services, such as labor and delivery, prenatal care and care for miscarriages. The Smith bill would take away coverage that millions of women and families already have.

“The Smith bill is a multi-pronged and deeply misguided measure that represents the worst kind of government interference in private medical decisions,” said Vania Leveille, ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel. “Congress should not impose new barriers and restrictions to women’s health care. The House should reject this bill on its face.”

Every month, you'll receive regular roundups of the most important civil rights and civil liberties developments. Remember: a well-informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny.

Learn More About the Issues in This Press Release