The House yesterday voted 238-183 to pass H.R. 7, also known as the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act.” The legislation is now headed to the Senate. If signed into law, it would deny over 28 million women access to abortion coverage.
H.R. 7 prohibits government funding for abortion through Medicaid or the Affordable Care Act (ACA) except in the case of incest, rape or endangerment of a woman’s life. The legislation prohibits federal subsidies for insurance plans that cover abortion, ends abortion coverage under the ACA’s multi-state health insurance plans and prevents government-owned health care facilities from offering abortion care. It also penalizes small business owners who choose to offer insurance coverage including abortion to their employees and forces insurers to mislead consumers about the options available to them when purchasing care plans.
Though shocking, these policies are not new. H.R. 7 codifies and expand on the Hyde Amendment—which bars federal money from directly or indirectly funding abortion domestically—and the Helms Amendment—which prevents federal funds from supporting the work of comprehensive health care providers abroad who so much as mention abortion. Although this legislation also expands upon those riders to limit coverage under the Affordable Care Act, that, too, is redundant—25 states have already made it illegal to purchase insurance plans covering abortion through the health insurance exchange. Abortion advocates now fear that bills like H.R. 7, should they become law, will deter insurance companies from offering abortion coverage in any plans and to any woman.
The Guttmacher Institute found that 60 percent of the nearly one in six women of reproductive age enrolled in Medicaid live in states that forbid them to have abortion coverage. Those women pay an average of $350 out of pocket to access a safe, legal abortion—driving one in four poor women to carry to term who wishes to end a pregnancy and pushing others to pursue unsafe abortions. Women like these are the ones who will be left behind by H.R. 7, among others. If signed into law, H.R. 7 would also restrict access to abortion for federal government employees, women in the military, women in the Peace Corps, federal prisoners, veterans and Native American women. In addition, H.R. 7 would permanently prohibit federal funds from supporting the work of organizations abroad who provide comprehensive family planning services, effectively denying abortion access to survivors of rape in war.
“The House of Representatives’ vote today on H.R. 7 was a vote to punish women who seek abortions on the basis of how much money they earn, where they live and how they are insured,” Dr. Willie Parker, Board Chair of Physicians for Reproductive Health and an abortion provider himself, told Mic in an email statement. “While this vote is not surprising, I am disappointed for my patients and their families.”