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Only a few days into the first session of the New Year and anti-women’s health politicians are already attacking abortion rights.   Last week, they held a hearing on H.R. 7, a bill that is not only dangerous to women’s health, but would take away important tax benefits from American families and small business.  

The misleadingly named “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion” (H.R. 7), is a dangerous assault on women’s health and a harmful attempt to take away the comprehensive private health insurance coverage that millions of women have today. By denying access to health insurance coverage that includes coverage of abortion, the legislation would fundamentally change the health insurance market from one where abortion coverage is the industry standard to one where it’s eliminated. The bill also has severe consequences for women who experience sexual violence, requiring them to provide evidence of the rape or incest before a medical expense deduction or tax-advantaged savings could be used to pay for her abortion. A woman’s health insurance is supposed to enable her to take care of her health and well-being, not limit her options.

With a witness representing the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), an insurance expert and professor, and another professor who has represented the USCCB in the past testifying before an all-male panel, here are 5 telling quotes from the hearing on H.R. 7:

  • Representing the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was Richard Doerflinger; a consultant of the Bishops, law professor Helen Alvare, also testified.  In her remarks, Alvare argued that abortion is "not a part of any genuine ‘women’s health’ agenda."  Seemingly, she fails to understand that allowing women to make their own health care decisions is the basis for any agenda involving women’s health.   
  • An expert on the insurance market and associate professor at health policy at George Washington University, Susan Wood, talked to the Huffington Post about the true government overreach of the bill itself: “Up until recently, the private insurance market has seen abortion coverage as routine and non-controversial, and now we have Congress and politicians reaching into the private sector to try and get rid of abortion using this approach." According to Wood, the bill would “virtually eliminate abortion coverage from the private insurance market and impose unprecedented new tax burdens on small businesses that want to offer abortion coverage to their employees.” 
  • In his statement submitted for public record, Rep. John Conyers acknowledged the burden the bill places on poor families: "Let's call this legislation exactly what it is: a tax increase on individuals, families or small employers who make a particular health care choice that some of my colleagues don't like. The overall impact of this bill is clear…[It] will effectively eliminate coverage that families across America now have and now pay for with their own money." 
  • Rep. Ted Deutch of Michigan, also acknowledged the legislation was misleading: " Instead, this committee, on a regular basis, seems intent on picking away at a constitutionally protected right with misleading back-door legislation."
  • And if you had any doubt that this legislation was not about taxation and instead an attempt to make it harder for women to access to safe and legal abortion, then Republican Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) had some clarifying words: "It's important for this committee to take the lead on legislation to further limit the number of abortions performed in this country.”

Remember when Republicans were trying to rebrand themselves and refine their outreach to women? Well, apparently that time is over, and the New Year is starting to look very similar to 2013, with more of the same attacks on women’s health.

Tags: Congress, Abortion restrictions, H.R. 7, Trent Franks, Rep. John Conyers, Rep. Ted Deutch, Rep. Steve Chabot, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

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