Just last week, Politico stated as fact the assertion that social issues have “been largely relegated to the sidelines” in Republican politics, and the GOP’s competing wings have both “steered away from social issues they deem too divisive.”
As the Senate takes up a measure to extend unemployment insurance, Republicans in the House of Representatives are looking to make 2014 another banner year for anti-abortion laws.
A panel of 12 men on the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on a bill Thursday that would deny tax subsidies to women and small businesses who purchase health insurance plans that include abortion coverage. The bill only makes an exception for rape and incest victims and women who would die without abortion care, which opponents say could prompt the IRS to audit any woman who claims one of these exceptions.
Congress’ to-do list is long and getting longer, and one would like to assume an institution that has failed to a historic degree to get things done would be eager to roll up its sleeves and do real work. Blowing off economic concerns to fight a culture war is arguably the worst use of lawmakers’ time.
But in just a few minutes, a dozen white dudes will nevertheless convene a hearing of another anti-abortion bill. Indeed, note that the “No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion” bill, as it’s called, has been given a top bill number (H.R. 7) to help convey its significance to the House Republican majority.
As for the merits of the proposal, NARAL Pro-Choice America circulated materials yesterday arguing the legislation would:
* Raise taxes on small businesses and individuals who buy insurance with abortion coverage outside the exchanges. It does so by imposing tax penalties on individuals and small businesses that choose private health plans that cover abortion care. (Absent political interference, 87 percent of private plans cover abortion services.)
* Eliminate abortion coverage from private insurance plans sold through Obamacare exchanges. This bill includes a provision that would effectively end abortion coverage for women in state insurance exchanges who use their own, private funds to pay for their insurance and ban abortion coverage for millions of middle- and low-income women who will receive partial subsidies to purchase insurance.
* Spur audits for rape survivors. H.R.7 eliminates medical-expense deductions for abortion services, with exceptions only for cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the woman is in danger. As a result, the bill could prompt the IRS to audit a sexual-assault survivor who seeks abortion care with her own, private funds.
It’s worth emphasizing that the proposal is unlikely to become law. Even if it passes the House, it’s prospects in the Senate are poor and there’s simply no way President Obama would consider signing this into law.
House Republicans know this, but they’re investing time and energy into this endeavor anyway.