The XX Factor

House Passes Anti-Abortion HR3

The first thing you must know about HR3, the No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act that just passed the House, is that it is misnamed.  The bill doesn’t address taxpayer funding for abortion, which has been banned since 1976 under the Hyde Amendment.  What the bill actually does is eliminate any tax credits or deductions taken by individuals or employers for health insurance, if that insurance plan covers abortion, even if they don’t use the service.  The ACLU described it succinctly in a press release:

It manipulates the tax code so as to penalize millions of Americans by taking away tax credits to small businesses that offer insurance plans that cover abortion along with other pregnancy-related care and by precluding families from deducting medical expenses related to abortion. The bill would make permanent a provision that violates the District of Columbia’s autonomy and forbids it from choosing whether to use its own locally-raised, non-federal dollars to provide abortion coverage for its low-income residents.

Additionally, the bill has an amendment that was offered by Rep. Joe Pitts that would allow hospitals to deny life-saving care to pregnant women, if that care requires terminating the pregnancy.  In practice, this means if you’re pregnant and have a septic miscarriage, the hospital has a right to let you die of blood poisoning if the miscarriage hasn’t completed on its own and you need a D&C to survive.  But Rep. Pitts justifies it because he believes abortion is the worst possible thing a human being can do:

“Abortion is not health care,” said Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), sponsor of another abortion-related measure titled the ” Protect Life Act .” “Abortion is the most violent form of death known to mankind.”

Besides the dead pregnant women, the most immediate effect if HR3 passes into law would likely be that every insurance company in the country would drop abortion coverage, as no employers or individuals are likely to take a massive tax raise just to keep a plan that covers abortion services.  This will result in more dead pregnant women, since insurance companies will also drop coverage for expensive late term abortions that are used to save women who develop conditions such as eclampsia later in their pregnancies, a service that can cost thousands of dollars.

Beyond even the loss of abortion coverage and the growth in maternal mortality, there’s more to worry about when it comes to HR3.  As David Waldman at Daily Kos explains , this bill sets a radical precedent in defining what counts as “federal” money.  If the government can revoke your tax deductions or credits for spending your private money on private activities, there’s no reason to think they can stop at abortion coverage under insurance.  Another potential example he brings up is the paying of union dues.  Under the logic underpinning HR3, it’s within the realm of possibility that the government could reject your tax deductions if you pay union dues, for instance. Considering the move to dismantle unions in Republican-controlled states, it’s not beyond the realm of imagination.

Photograph of Rep. Joe Pitts by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.