The House GOP's Crusade Against Reproductive Rights

October 06, 2011 2:01 pm ET

In September, Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce's Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, initiated an investigation of Planned Parenthood's financial records looking for misappropriated federal funds and requesting paperwork going back over 13 years. This Republican vendetta against Planned Parenthood is part of a larger fight in which Republicans are trying to prevent women from being in control of their reproductive health. To that end, House Republicans introduced a multitude of bills and amendments since January that would chip away at women's reproductive rights by eliminating Title X funding, defunding Planned Parenthood, imposing harsh restrictions on funding for abortions, replacing sexual education programs with abstinence-only programs, redefining rape to limit abortion exceptions, reinstating the global gag rule, supporting crisis pregnancy centers and imposing harsher parental notification laws.

Republicans Have Repeatedly Proposed Eliminating Funding For Title X And Planned Parenthood

The GOP Spending Plan Proposed In February "Would Cut All $327 Million From Title X." As reported by the Wall Street Journal: "Among the programs that would be eliminated entirely under the new Republican spending plan announced today is Title X, a which provides family planning for low-income Americans. The GOP plan would cut all $327 million from Title X." [Wall Street Journal, 2/9/11]

  • Title X Funding Supports Numerous Preventive Health Services, Not Abortions. According to HHS' Office of Population Affairs: "Over the past 40 years, Title X Family Planning clinics have played a critical role in ensuring access to a broad range of family planning and related preventive health services for millions of low-income or uninsured individuals. In addition to contraceptive services and related counseling, Title X-supported clinics provide a number of related preventive health services such as: patient education and counseling; breast and pelvic examinations; breast and cervical cancer screening according to nationally recognized standards of care; sexually transmitted disease (STD) and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) prevention education, counseling, testing and referral; and pregnancy diagnosis and counseling. By law, Title X funds may not be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning." [Office of Population Affairs, accessed 10/4/11]
  • Guttmacher Institute: "Every Dollar Spent On Family Planning Saves Taxpayers $3.74 In Government Spending." From Slate: "The Guttmacher Institute estimated in 2008 that every dollar spent on family planning saves taxpayers $3.74 in government spending on prenatal care, childbirth, and the first year of an infant's health care. But if more women who are financially stressed end up bearing children they don't want, the costs of pregnancy and infant care will quickly be dwarfed by government spending on public assistance, food stamps, and health care." [Slate, 3/28/11]
  • Sebelius: "Cutting [Title X] Funding Would Increase The Number Of Unintended Pregnancies And Increase The Number Of Abortions." From Politico:

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius had some strong words for House Republicans as Democrats said the continuing budget negotiations were held up over Title X and Planned Parenthood funding.

"I think it's really unfortunate Congress can't come to a resolution on this year's budget ... cutting [Title X] funding would increase the number of unintended pregnancies and increase the number of abortions, so the people who say they're having this battle about abortion are actually not looking at what the statistics have indicated," Sebelius told POLITICO Friday. "Federal funds have never supported abortion, do not support abortion, will not support abortion." [Politico, 4/8/11]

Rep. Pence Sponsored Amendment To Prohibit All Federal Funding For Planned Parenthood. Amendment No. 11 to H.R. 1, which was offered by Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), reads: "None of the funds made available by this Act may be made available for any purpose to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. or any...affiliates of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc." [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2/15/11]

  • GOP House Passed Pence Amendment To Defund Planned Parenthood. According to the American Independent:

The House voted Friday to block federal funding to Planned Parenthood, passing 240 to 185.

The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), has been added to the Continuing Resolution (H.R. 1) to fund the federal government through September.

If the resolution goes into law, the 95-year-old health care provider will lose funding from the federal government, all of which goes to family planning and reproductive services under Title X, and none of which goes to funding abortions.

It will also eliminate the entire Title X program, which was founded in 1970 and is the only federal grant program dedicated solely to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and preventive health services, particularly to low-income families, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' Office of Population Affairs. Preventative health services include breast and cervical cancer screenings, HIV prevention education, pregnancy diagnosis and counseling. [American Independent, 2/18/11]

235 House Republicans Voted For The Republican Spending Plan. In February, 235 House Republicans voted "yea" on passage of H.R. 1, the Republican legislation to fund the government through the end of the 2011 fiscal year. [H.R. 1, Vote #147, 2/19/11]

Republican Provisions To Eliminate Funding For Planned Parenthood And Title X At The Center Of The April Government Shutdown Crisis. According to ABC News:

The elimination of $363 million in federal funding for Planned Parenthood health care centers may well force a government shutdown at midnight tonight.

Republicans want to block $70 million Planned Parenthood receives each year under Title X, a program implemented under Republican President Richard Nixon in 1970 to provide contraceptives, cancer screenings, and pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease testing at community health centers across the country. And they want to cut off $293 million the clinics receive through Medicare. [...]

But many Republicans say they're willing to take a stand on Title X funding for Planned Parenthood or any number of other controversial measures, eager to appeal to their conservative base while also achieving greater budget savings. [ABC News, 4/8/11]

Rep. Pence's Bill Would Prohibit Title X Family Planning Grants From Going To Entities That Perform Abortions. In January, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) introduced H.R. 217, the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act, which would "prohibit family planning grants from being awarded to any entity that performs abortions." [OpenCongress.org, accessed 10/4/11]

  • Rep. Pence's Title X Bill Is Aimed At Planned Parenthood. According to the Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Pence has made it clear his legislation is aimed at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, which is the nation's biggest provider of abortion services and also a major recipient of Title X money.

"The largest abortion provider in America should not also be the largest recipient of federal funding under Title X," Mr. Pence said at a recent "March for Life." "The time has come to deny any and all federal funding to Planned Parenthood of America." [Wall Street Journal, 2/9/11, emphasis added]

171 House Republicans Co-Sponsored Rep. Pence's Bill To Prohibit Title X Funds From Going To Abortion Providers. Since being introduced in January, Rep. Pence's bill, H.R. 217, has attracted 171 Republican co-sponsors. [GovTrack.us, accessed 10/5/11]

Rep. Paul Introduced Bill To Ban Federal Money Going To Any Family Planning Program. In March, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) introduced H.R. 1099, the Taxpayers' Freedom of Conscience Act of 2011, which "would prevent federal expenditures on any form of family planning programs/activities both foreign and domestic." [Kaiser Family Foundation Policy Tracker, accessed 10/4/11]

  • Paul Cited Planned Parenthood When Highlighting His Bill To Ban Any Federal Funds For "Any Family Planning Activity." In a statement given to the Susan B. Anthony List, Rep. Ron Paul said: "As a father, Christian and Obstetrician, I find it shameful that our government uses the tax dollars of citizens to fund Planned Parenthood. This is why I am an original cosponsor of theTitle X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act (HR 217). I have also introduced the Taxpayers' Freedom of Conscience Act (HR 1099), legislation prohibiting any federal official fromspending any federal funds for any population control or population planning program or any family planning activity." [Rep. Ron Paul Statement, 4/4/11, via Susan B. Anthony List]

GOP Labor-HHS Draft 2012 Budget Eliminates Title X And Planned Parenthood Funding. The Republican draft budget for the Departments of Labor, Education and Health and Human Services includes provisions that eliminate Title X and Planned Parenthood funding. According to the New York Times:

The bill stipulates that no more federal money could be spent on the government's main family planning program, Title X of the Public Health Service Act, established more than 40 years ago. The program provides services to more than five million people a year at more than 4,500 clinics.

Under the bill, no money "may be made available for any purpose" to Planned Parenthood clinics unless they certify that they will not perform abortions. The clinics provide a wide range of health services and perform more than 300,000 abortions a year.  [New York Times, 10/3/11]

GOP Bill Goes Far Beyond Status Quo In Applying Harsh Restrictions That Make It Difficult To Obtain Abortion Coverage

H.R. 3 Prohibits Medical Tax Deductions For Private Plans That Cover Abortion — Regardless Of Whether Abortion Coverage Is Used. From the text of H.R. 3, the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act":

"SEC. 303. PROHIBITION ON TAX BENEFITS RELATING TO ABORTION.

''For taxable years beginning after the date of the enactment of this section

''(1) no credit shall be allowed under the internal revenue laws with respect to amounts paid or incurred for an abortion or with respect to amounts paid or incurred for a health benefits plan (including premium assistance) that includes coverage of abortion,

''(2) for purposes of determining any deduction for expenses paid for medical care of the taxpayer or the taxpayer's spouse or dependents, amounts paid or incurred for an abortion or for a health benefits plan that includes coverage of abortion shall not be taken into account, and

''(3) in the case of any tax-preferred trust or account the purpose of which is to pay medical expenses of the account beneficiary, any amount paid or distributed from such an account for an abortion shall be included in the gross income of such beneficiary. [H.R. 3, "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act," 1/20/11, emphasis added]

H.R. 3 "Prohibits Both Direct And Indirect Funding" To "Make Abortion As Difficult To Obtain As Possible." According to the ThinkProgress' Igor Volsky:

The bill prohibits both direct and indirect funding streams that might potentially touch on the provision of abortion care and would make abortion as difficult to obtain as possible without actually criminalizing it. And it does this by arguing that money is fungible — that is, if an individual received a tax credit, she will have more private dollars to pay for abortion coverage. Therefore:

- It would deny tax credits to individuals or entities that pay for abortion care

- Disallow medical deductions for payments for any health plan that includes abortion coverage or for any medical expenses related to abortion care

- Treat as income any amounts paid for an abortion from a tax-preferred trust or account, such as a health savings account [ThinkProgress, 1/20/11, emphasis original]

H.R. 3 Could Force Insurance Companies To Drop Abortion Coverage From Private Plans. According to NPR's Morning Edition:

Timothy Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University and a prominent anti-abortion voice, says what many Republicans are saying about the law and abortion is simply not so.

"Both the federal court in Virginia and the Ohio Elections Commission determined that the claim that the [health law] funds abortion is false," Jost said. "So the question is not whether we're going to strip abortion funding from health care reform. The question is how much further Congress is willing to go to remove tax subsidies for abortion coverage that is currently available."

Jost is referring to the fact that Smith's bill would do more than just write into law existing abortion restrictions. It would also eliminate tax benefits for insurance policies that cover abortion — even abortions in most cases of medical necessity.

NARAL's Crane says the effect could be far-reaching.

"If you are a health insurance plan and you are selling your product, and all of a sudden it becomes that much more expensive because there are tax penalties imposed on it, you're probably going to change the nature of your product, and in this case we're quite certain that Chris Smith intends for health insurance plans to drop their abortion coverage," Crane said. [NPR's Morning Edition, 1/21/11, emphasis added]

235 House Republicans Voted For H.R. 3, The "No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act." In May, 235 House Republicans voted to pass H.R. 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. [H.R. 3, Vote #292, 5/4/11]

Read more about how H.R. 3 intrudes on private health care decisions HERE.

Republicans Have Attempted To Redefine Rape

Republicans Attempted To Narrow Rape Exception In Abortion Law To "Forcible Rape." According to Mother Jones:

For years, federal laws restricting the use of government funds to pay for abortions have included exemptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. (Another exemption covers pregnancies that could endanger the life of the woman.) But the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act," a bill with 173 mostly Republican co-sponsors that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has dubbed a top priority in the new Congress, contains a provision that would rewrite the rules to limit drastically the definition of rape and incest in these cases.

With this legislation, which was introduced last week by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Republicans propose that the rape exemption be limited to "forcible rape." This would rule out federal assistance for abortions in many rape cases, including instances of statutory rape, many of which are non-forcible. For example: If a 13-year-old girl is impregnated by a 24-year-old adult, she would no longer qualify to have Medicaid pay for an abortion. (Smith's spokesman did not respond to a call and an email requesting comment.)  [Mother Jones, 1/28/11, emphasis added]

After Removing "Forcible Rape" Language From H.R. 3, Republicans Used A "Sly Legislative Maneuver" To Leave Open The Door To Statutory Rape Exclusions. According to Mother Jones:

In February, Republicans drew widespread condemnation for their "forcible rape" proposal, which legal experts said would have excluded statutory rape victims and others from obtaining abortions through Medicaid. Amidst public outcry and a protest campaign by left-leaning groups, Republicans abandoned the language, which had been included in the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act," a bill the GOP leadership numbered H.R. 3 to signify its high priority to the party. But while they've amended their legislation, which faces a floor vote in the House on Wednesday, Republicans haven't stopped trying to narrow the already small exception under which federal funding for abortions is permissible. They've used a sly legislative maneuver to make sure that even though the language of the bill is different, the effect remains the same.

The backdoor reintroduction of the statutory rape change relies on the use of a committee report, a document that congressional committees produce outlining what they intend a piece of legislation to do. If there's ever a court fight about the interpretation of a law — and when it comes to a subject as contentious as abortion rights, there almost always is — judges will look to the committee report as evidence of congressional intent, and use it to decide what the law actually means.

In this case, the committee report for H.R. 3 says that the bill will "not allow the Federal Government to subsidize abortions in cases of statutory rape." The bill itself doesn't say anything like that, but if a court decides that legislators intended to exclude statutory rape-related abortions from eligibility for Medicaid funding, then that will be the effect. [Mother Jones, 5/3/11, emphasis added]

GOP Bill Not Only Prevents Private Insurance From Covering Abortions, But Allows Hospitals To Refuse To Perform Abortions, Even In Emergency Situations

Rep. Pitts' Bill Would Prevent Private Insurance In State Exchanges From Covering Abortions. According to the New York Times:

Another bill, sponsored by Mr. Pitts, addresses the health care overhaul head-on by prohibiting Americans who receive insurance through state exchanges from purchasing abortion coverage, even with their own money. The bill is essentially a resurrection of a provision in the House version of the health care law but was not in the Senate version.

The bill would also permit hospitals to refuse abortions to women, even in emergency situations, if such care would offend the conscience of the health care providers. [New York Times, 2/8/11]

Rep. Pitts' Bill Would Allow Hospitals To Refuse Abortions To Women, Even In Cases Of Emergency. According to Talking Points Memo:

A bit of backstory: currently, all hospitals in America that receive Medicare or Medicaid funding are bound by a 1986 law known as EMTALA to provide emergency care to all comers, regardless of their ability to pay or other factors. Hospitals do not have to provide free care to everyone that arrives at their doorstep under EMTALA — but they do have to stabilize them and provide them with emergency care without factoring in their ability to pay for it or not. If a hospital can't provide the care a patient needs, it is required to transfer that patient to a hospital that can, and the receiving hospital is required to accept that patient.

In the case of an anti-abortion hospital with a patient requiring an emergency abortion, ETMALA would require that hospital to perform it or transfer the patient to someone who can. (The nature of how that procedure works exactly is up in the air, with the ACLU calling on the federal government to state clearly that unwillingness to perform an abortion doesn't qualify as inability under EMTALA. That argument is ongoing, and the government has yet to weigh in.)

Pitts' new bill would free hospitals from any abortion requirement under EMTALA, meaning that medical providers who aren't willing to terminate pregnancies wouldn't have to — nor would they have to facilitate a transfer.

The hospital could literally do nothing at all, pro-choice critics of Pitts' bill say. [Talking Points Memo, 2/4/11, emphasis added]

236 House Republicans Voted For H.R. 358, the "Protect Life Act." In October, 236 House Republicans voted to pass H.R. 358, the Protect Life Act. [H.R. 358, Vote #789, 10/13/11]

GOP Bills Cut Back Funding For Sexual Education Programs While Promoting Abstinence Programs

Rep. Hultgren Introduced Legislation To Reallocate Funds To Abstinence Education. Speaking on the House floor in September, Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL) introduced his abstinence education bill, saying:  "In these dire financial times government must identify what works and what doesn't, even when it comes to sex education for our kids. The CDC released a fascinating study this year that two-thirds of teens aged 15 to 17 are abstaining from sex. In fact, 70 percent of parents support abstinence until marriage for their teens. But under this administration we've seen a troubling 16 to 1 funding disparity between contraceptive centered education and sexual risk avoidance education. That's why last week I filed a bill, H.R. 2874, to restore fairness to the funding and direct it instead to programs that give our kids the facts about contraception without distorting them." [Rep. Hultgren Floor Speech, 9/14/11, via YouTube]

Labor-HHS Draft 2012 Budget Redistributes Funding From Sexual Education To Abstinence Education Programs. From the text of the fiscal year 2012 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education draft budget:

Provided further, That of the funds made available under this heading, $40,000,000 shall be for making competitive contracts and grants to public and private entities to fund age appropriate programs that reduce teen pregnancy and for the Federal costs associated with administering and  evaluating such contracts and grants, of which $20,000,000 shall be for making competitive grants to provide abstinence education (as defined by section 510(b)(2)(A)-(H) of the Social Security Act) to adolescents, and for Federal costs of administering the grant: Provided further, That grants made under the authority  of section 510(b)(2)(A)-(H) of the Social Security Act shall be made only to public and private entities that agree that, with respect to an adolescent to whom the entities provide abstinence education under such grant, the entities will not provide to that adolescent any other education regarding sexual conduct, except that, in the case of an entity expressly required by law to provide health information or services the adolescent shall not be precluded from seeking health information or services from the entity in a different setting than the setting in which abstinence education was provided: [Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Draft Budget FY 2012, accessed 10/3/11, emphasis added]

Labor-HHS Draft Budget Cuts Funding For Evidence-Based Teen Pregnancy Prevention And Reopens The Possibility Of Funding For Abstinence Only Programs. From RH Reality Check:

The proposed bill cuts funding for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative from $110 million to just $20 million.  The new initiative, according to the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), funds a total of 102 grantees in 36 states and is set to reach over 800,000 young people annually.  It began in FY 2010 and was designed to support "medically accurate and age-appropriate programs to reduce teen pregnancy and underlying behavioral risk factors."  Many saw this as the Obama Administration's answer to the Bush-era investment in abstinence-only-until-marriage programs which did not work.  Not only would the cuts force the government to drastically reduce the number of grantees receiving money, the proposed bill also removes the important requirement that all programs be evidence-based, which disregards the intent of the initiative and makes room for abstinence-only programs to apply. 

But they might not have to because the bill also resurrects the Community-Based Abstinence Education (CBAE) grant program.  CBAE was always considered the strictest of the funding streams for abstinence-only programs in part because the money went straight from the Department of Health and Human Services to community-based organizations bypassing the states which were often more relaxed about the definition of what constitutes an abstinence-only program.  Funding for CBAE was finally eliminated in Fiscal Year 2010.  In this proposed bill, it once again would receive $20 million. [RH Reality Check, 10/3/11, emphasis added]

GOP Bill Allows Health Care Providers To Ignore Public Health Laws Related To Abortion

Rep. Fleming Introduced Bill That Would Allow Health Care Organizations To Refuse To Provide Abortion-Related Services Even When Required By Law.  In February, Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) introduced the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act, which, according to Feminist Majority, "would amend the Public Health Service Act to allow health care organizations to refuse to provide abortion services or give information regarding those services. It would permit health care institutions to ignore public health laws that require them to provide pregnant women complete information about all of their options, to treat abortion patients whose health is at risk, or to cover abortions in cases of rape or incest." [Feminist Majority, accessed 10/4/11]

87 House Republicans Co-Sponsored Rep. Fleming's Bill. Since being introduced in September, Rep. Fleming's bill, H.R. 361, has garnered 87 Republican co-sponsors. [GovTrack.us, accessed 10/5/11]

Labor-HHS Budget Draft Includes The Abortion Non-Discrimination Act. According to a House Appropriations Committee press release: "The legislation expands the Hyde Amendment to apply to funding provided through ObamaCare, includes language prohibiting funding for Planned Parenthood unless it certifies it will not provide abortions, and includes the text of the 'Abortion Non-Discrimination Act.'" [House Appropriations Committee Press Release, 9/29/11]

Republicans Support Reinstating The Global Gag Rule Preventing U.S. Aid Going To International Organizations That Promote Or Perform Abortions

GOP Included A Provision To Ban Abortion Funds In Foreign Relations Authorization Bill. The House Foreign Affairs Committee supported a provision in the Foreign Relations Authorization Act that prohibits any international organization that promotes or performs abortions from receiving U.S. aid. From the Associated Press: "The panel backed a provision banning U.S. taxpayer money, usually Agency for International Development funds, from going to international family planning groups that either offer abortions or provide abortion information, counseling or referrals. Exceptions are for rape, incest or if the life of the mother is in danger." [Associated Press, 7/21/11]

Global Gag Rule Restricts Women's Access To Reproductive Care Internationally. According to the Center for American Progress:

For the original text of the bill, drawn up by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, includes a provision reinstituting by law the Mexico City Policy — also known as the global gag rule. [...]

Under the global gag rule, these organizations face a choice: either participate in the American right's global campaign to restrict women's rights and access to reproductive health care or lose critical U.S. funding.

The global gag rule's funding restrictions only serves to circumscribe women's access to safe, quality health care and endanger their lives by penalizing organizations that seek to provide women with access to safe abortions. Women with limited options are forced to seek out abortion providers that may lack necessary medical skills or an environment that conforms to minimal medical standards. These unsafe abortions constitute 48 percent of all abortions, leading to the hospitalization of 5 million women due to complications and the deaths of 47,000 more every year.

According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, 35 of the 56 countries receiving USAID assistance permit abortion without restriction as to reason, or on grounds such as fetal impairment, to protect a woman's physical or mental health, or socioeconomic hardship. When the global gag rule is in force, groups operating in these countries are prevented from providing women with complete and accurate information about their pregnancy options.  [Center for American Progress, 7/26/11]

GOP Amendment Prohibits Graduate Medical Education Funds From Going Towards Training Doctors To Perform Abortions

Rep. Foxx's Amendment Prohibits Graduate Medical Education Funds From Going Towards Training Doctors On How To Perform Abortions. According to GOP.gov, in May Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) offered an amendment to the Public Health Service Act that would "prohibit any funds made available under the Act to be used to provide any abortion or training in the provision of abortions, except in the cases of rape, incest, or in the case where a woman suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness, that would, as certified by a physician, place the woman in danger of death unless an abortion is performed including a life endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself." [GOP.gov, accessed 10/3/11, emphasis added]

Planned Parenthood: Foxx Amendment "Undermine[s] Women's Ability To Be Served By Physicians Who Are Adequately Trained To Provide A Full Range Of Reproductive Health Services." According to Planned Parenthood:

The Foxx amendment runs counter to the standards set forth by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), the leading entity responsible for ensuring medical training programs prepare physicians for real-life medical encounters.

In fact, while federal law and ACGME standards ensure residents will not have to perform abortions if they object, ACGME standards do stipulate that abortion training should be included in medical education programs for obstetrics and gynecology.

The Foxx amendment is a clear attempt to undermine women's ability to be served by physicians who are adequately trained to provide the full range of reproductive health services they may need.  As a result, this amendment would put women's health in jeopardy.

Furthermore, this amendment goes beyond existing law by creating new restrictions around women's ability to get access to information about abortion. The amendment would prohibit entities that receive the medical training grants from ensuring that their patients have access to all the information about their health care options.  Alarmingly, this provision has no protections for the patient herself. [Planned Parenthood, 5/24/11]

221 House Republicans Voted For Rep. Foxx's Amendment. In May, 221 House Republicans voted "yea" on passage of Rep. Foxx's amendment that would prohibit graduate medical education funds from training doctors how to perform abortions. [Amendment No. 7, H.R. 1216, Vote #338, 5/25/11]

GOP Bill Grants Legal And Constitutional Rights To Embryos

Rep. Broun Bill Grants Legal And Constitutional Rights To Embryos. In January, Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) introduced the Sanctity of Human Life Act, H.R. 212. According to Feminist Majority, the bill "provides that human life begins with fertilization, cloning, or its functional equivalent, at which time every human has all legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood." [Feminist Majority, accessed 10/3/11]

62 House Republicans Co-Sponsored Rep. Broun's Bill. Since being introduced in January, Rep. Broun's bill, H.R. 212, has garnered 62 Republican co-sponsors. [GovTrack.us, accessed 10/5/11]

GOP Amendment To Agriculture Appropriations Bill Prohibits Funds Being Used For Medical Abortion Pill

Rep. King's Amendment Prohibits Funds Being Used For RU-486, Including In Telemedicine Services. In June, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) added an amendment to the Agriculture Appropriations bill that would prohibit funds in the bill to be used for mifepristone, otherwise known as RU-486. According to the Iowa Independent:

U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-Kiron) successfully introduced an amendment to the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2012, HR 2112, to prevent any appropriations made possible by the bill to be used for mifepristone, for any purpose.

In introducing his amendment, King made clear that the purpose was to prevent Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers from accessing a $15 million line item contained in the bill for development of telemedicine services; however, the language of the amendment is extremely broad. It states that "none of the funds made available by this Act may be used for mifepristone, commonly known as RU-486, for any purpose," which does not specifically target the telemedicine line item, but applies to any and all appropriations within the bill. [Iowa Independent, 6/17/11]

Telemedicine Services Provide Rural Women With Access To Medical Abortions. According to the Iowa Independent:

The town hall meeting, according to literature distributed by the groups, will focus on a relatively new application of telemedicine by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland that has infuriated the anti-abortion community. The telemedicine program allows women in rural areas to visit local clinics and meet with an abortion provider through video conferencing. If the woman chooses to have a chemical abortion procedure, which is only available during the first 9 weeks of pregnancy, and the provider approves, a signal is sent by the provider to the rural clinic where a small drawer containing the medication is opened.

The program has been underway in Iowa for roughly two years, although it only came under scrutiny by anti-abortion groups this year. Iowa is the first state in the nation to utilize the convenience of telemedicine to provide this type of service to women in more rural settings. Anti-abortion activists, however, fear that if left unchecked, use of telemedicine for chemical abortions will spread throughout the nation and likely undermine their own successes of closing clinics and encouraging abortion providers (often through violence) to stop practicing. [Iowa Independent, 10/12/10]

226 House Republicans Voted For Rep. King's Amendment. In June, 226 House Republicans voted "yea" on passage of Rep. King's amendment that would prohibit funds to go for mifepristone. [Amendment No. 2, H.R. 2112, Vote #445, 6/16/11]

GOP Bill Seeks To Increase Administrative Requirements For States That Provide Federal Funds To Abortion Providers

Rep. Olson's Bill Increases Administrative Requirements For States That Use Federal Money For Abortion Providers. In February, Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) introduced H.R. 593, the Taxpayer Conscience Protection Act, which "directs each state that makes a Medicaid payment from federal funds during the fiscal year for any items or services furnished by an abortion provider to: (1) report to the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) on all such payments, and (2) publish the report on a public Internet website of the state.  It also requires an annual report to specified congressional committees on such reports, which shall also be published on a public Internet HHS website." [Rep. Pete Olson Press Release, accessed 10/4/11]

25 House Republicans Co-Sponsored Rep. Olson's Bill. Since being introduced in February, Rep. Olson's bill, H.R. 593, has garnered 25 Republican co-sponsors. [GovTrack.us, accessed 10/5/11]

GOP Bills Provide Funding And Support For Crisis Pregnancy Centers

Rep. Stearns Introduced Bill To Provide Funds To Anti-Abortion "Crisis Pregnancy Centers." According to Mother Jones:

A bill that Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) introduced in January would provide federal funds for the purchase of sonogram machines at organizations that counsel women against having an abortion (the American Independent reported on this bill last week). These crisis pregnancy outfits, sometimes called "pregnancy resource centers," are often run by religious groups; many have been found to provide women with false and misleading information to dissuade them from having an abortion.

The preamble of Stearns' bill makes it sound as though any nonprofit, tax-exempt organization could apply to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for grants to purchase ultrasound equipment. But the bill comes with stipulations. To be eligible for this grant, a facility would have to show every woman seeking services the ultrasound image and describe to them the "general anatomical and physiological description of the characteristics of the fetus." The facility would be required to provide women with "alternatives to abortion such as childbirth and adoption and information concerning public and private agencies that will assist in those alternatives." It also must offer its services free of charge. That last condition would disqualify abortion providers, such as Planned Parenthood, which charges on a sliding scale based on a woman's income. [Mother Jones, 3/28/11, emphasis added]

Crisis Pregnancy Centers Misinform Women On Their Reproductive Choices. According to NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation: "While some CPCs [crisis pregnancy centers] may provide appropriate support and information to women facing unintended pregnancies, many do not. Unfortunately, reports indicate that many CPCs intentionally misinform and mislead women seeking pregnancy-related information with the intention of dissuading them from exercising their right to choose. In fact, some CPCs may force women seeking objective health-care information to watch anti-abortion films, slide shows, photographs, and hear lectures. Some may also refuse to provide information about or referrals for birth control. These practices block women from making fully informed choices about their reproductive health and may endanger women's health by delaying access to legitimate health-care services." [NARAL.org, accessed 10/4/11, footnotes removed for clarity, emphasis added]

GOP Bill Seeks To Impose Harsher Parental Notification Laws 

Rep. Ros-Lehtinen's Bill Imposes Harsher Parental Notification Laws Concerning Interstate Abortions. In June, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) introduced the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act, which, according to The Hill, "would require abortion providers in states without parental notification requirements to notify parents about abortion procedures. The bill, H.R. 2299, would also make it a federal offense to transport minors across state lines to avoid a state's laws requiring parental notification of abortions." [The Hill, 6/27/11]

Child Interstate Abortion Notification Laws Make It "Virtually Impossible For Young Women To Access Abortion Services In Another State." According to NARAL: "In recent years, anti-choice legislators in Congress ahve attempted to pass two pieces of federal legislation that would impose draconian criminal parental-involvement laws on every state in the country. The first, called the 'Child Custody Protection Act,' criminalizes care and loving adults — including grandparents, adult siblings, and religious counselors — who accompany a teen out of state for abortion care if the home state parental-involvement law has not been met. The second, called the 'Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act,' in additional to ther estrictive provisions in the CCPA, also would impose a convoluted patchwork of parental-involvement laws on women and doctors across the country, making it virtually impossible for young women to access abortion services in another state. Both measures would threaten young women's health and deny them the supprot and guidance they need from responsible and care adults." [NARAL.org, accessed 10/4/11, footnotes removed for clarity]

121 House Republicans Co-Sponsored Rep. Ros-Lehtinen's Bill. Since being introduced in June, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen's bill, H.R. 2299, has garnered 121 Republican co-sponsors. [GovTrack.us, accessed 10/5/11]

GOP Bill Requires Women Seeking An Abortion To Look At And Listen To The Heartbeat Of The Fetus

Rep. Bachmann Introduced Bill To Require Abortion Providers Make The Fetus' Heartbeat Audible And Visible To Women Seeking An Abortion. In October, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) introduced the Heartbeat Informed Consent Act, which "would require that abortion providers make the unborn child's heartbeat visible through ultrasound, describe the cardiac activity, and make the baby's heartbeat audible, if the child is old enough for it to be detectable." [Bachmann.House.gov, 10/6/11]

Time Op-Ed: "Heartbeat Bills Are An Attempt To Interfere With Women's Right To Make Private Medical Decisions." According to a Time op-ed: "Abortion rights advocates, however, insist that the heartbeat bills are an attempt to interfere with women's right to make private medical decisions. They argue that the state has no business trying to lobby patients about medical procedures, or to turn doctors into government mouthpieces." [Time, 10/17/11]

35 House Republicans Co-Sponsored Rep. Bachmann's Bill. Since being introduced in October, Rep. Bachmann's bill, H.R. 3130, has garnered 35 Republican co-sponsors. [GovTrack.us, accessed 10/20/11]

GOP Bill Prevents Any U.S. Aid From Going To U.N. Program That Helps Women With Reproductive Health Care

Rep. Ellmers' Bill Would Prevent U.S. Aid Going To United National Population Fund. The House Foreign Affairs Committee approved a bill introduced by Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC), which would "eliminate some $50 million that President Barack Obama requested for the U.N. organization that helps women and children in developing countries with reproductive health and family planning." [Associated Press, 10/5/11]

UNFPA Supports Family Planning, Prevention Of Sexually Transmitted Diseases And Works To Prevent Abortions. From the United National Population Fund (UNFPA) website:

Working with a wide range of partners, UNFPA assists governments in delivering sexual and reproductive health care throughout the lifecycle of women. Areas of assistance include:

  • Voluntary family planning
  • Antenatal, safe delivery and post-natal care
  • Prevention of abortion and management of its consequences
  • Treatment of reproductive tract infections
  • Prevention, care and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV
  • Information, education and counselling, as appropriate, on human sexuality and reproductive health;
  • Prevention of violence against women, care for survivors of violence and other actions to eliminate traditional harmful practices
  • Appropriate referrals for further diagnosis and management of the above.

[UNFPA, accessed 10/20/11]

93 House Republicans Co-Sponsored Rep. Ellmers' Bill. Since being introduced in May, Rep. Ellmers' bill, H.R. 2059, has garnered 93 Republican co-sponsors. [GovTrack.us, accessed 10/20/11]

GOP Members Urged Appeals Court To Back Indiana Law Defunding Planned Parenthood

41 Members Of Congress Urged Appeals Court To Back Indiana Law Defunding Planned Parenthood. According to an American Center for Law and Justice press release:

In May, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels signed House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1210 into law - a measure that prohibits the distribution of federal Medicaid funds it receives to organizations like Planned Parenthood that perform abortions. Planned Parenthood, backed by the Obama Administration, filed a federal lawsuit challenging the law. A federal district court granted a motion for a preliminary injunction putting the enforcement of the law on hold. [...]

The lawsuit by Planned Parenthood claims the Indiana law violates a federal statute. But in a friend-of-the-court brief representing 41 members of Congress and more than 25,000 Americans, the ACLJ argues that the Indiana measure is appropriate and constitutional.  [ACLJ Press Release, 8/8/11]

  • American Center For Law And Justice Are "Key Players In The Right-Wing Movement." According to Right Wing Watch: "Founded by Pat Robertson, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) and its Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow quickly established themselves as key players in the right-wing movement, litigating a variety of cases at all levels, including the Supreme Court. The ACLJ has been particularly active in fighting marriage equality and defending the Pledge of Allegiance, while Sekulow has maintained very close ties to the Bush White House and played a central role in pushing for the confirmation of Supreme Court Justices Roberts and Alito." [Right Wing Watch, accessed 10/3/11]
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