Idaho’s U.S. congressmen back anti-abortion legislation
Days after the Women’s March on Washington and before the March for Life, the Trump administration and Republican-heavy House targeted public funding for women’s health care.
President Donald Trump signed a memo on Tuesday reinstating a Reagan-era, global gag rule, the Mexico City Policy, which strips funding from international health and foreign aid groups that promote abortions.
And on Tuesday, House Republicans voted 238-183 to permanently ban U.S. women from receiving financial assistance for abortions — which makes no distinction for women insured through public programs such as Medicaid or private insurers on the Affordable Care Act exchanges.
Idaho’s House representatives, both Republican, Raúl Labrador and Mike Simpson, joined U.S. House colleagues on Tuesday in approving H.R. 7 — the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.
“I have always strongly supported policies that provide the utmost protection for the unborn,” Labrador said in a statement Tuesday. “Today I am proud to support the passage of historic legislation ensuring that no taxpayer dollars will pay for abortion. No American should be forced to violate their conscience rights by subsidizing abortions.”
The text of the bill, introduced by Rep. Christopher Smith, R-New Jersey, establishes a uniform policy against taxpayer funding of abortions in all government programs including the Affordable Care Act, and applies the principles of the Hyde Amendment across the federal government.
Every Republican in the House backed the new proposed legislation, with every Democrat but three voting in opposition and 11 members didn’t vote at all.
Enacted three years after the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, the Hyde Amendment currently bans federal funding for abortions in the U.S. It does, however, make exceptions for women who become pregnant through rape or incest, or when the life of the mother is endangered by the pregnancy — but not for women who have other maternal health issues or abnormalities.
The Hyde Amendment only covers funds appropriated through the Labor, Health and Human Services appropriations bill, and because of its limited scope, Congress has had to attach annual bans to programs funded by other revenue streams, such as international aid and the federal employee benefits program.
H.R. 7’s funding limitations do not apply to an abortion related to rape, incest or preserving the life of the mother.
Technically, Congress has the option to pass a budget without Hyde, but it’s never done so in the past 40 years since it was first introduced.
In essence, passing H.R. 7 would codify the language of Hyde into permanent law.
In a Friday statement, Simpson said he opposed the use of public funding for abortion services.
“I oppose abortion as means of birth control and believe that exceptions should be limited to cases of rape, incest or if the life of the mother is in danger,” Simpson said. “Furthermore, I believe adoption is a viable alternative to abortion. As such, I have supported efforts to curb the practice of abortion while serving in the House of Representatives.”
The Mexico City Policy, named after the city in which the law was first announced, took effect in 1985 and had been rescinded by Democratic presidents and restored by Republican presidents ever since.
President Trump’s memorandum revokes President Barack Obama’s January 2009 memo rescinding the policy.
Under the policy, foreign nongovernmental organizations that receive family planning assistance from the United States cannot “perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning” even with money that does not come from the United States.
“I support legislation that creates a government-wide prohibition on any taxpayer funding of abortion and provides for conscience protections for physicians employed by the federal government,” Simpson said.
Since 2010, the abortion landscape in the U.S. has grown significantly restrictive, with many states becoming hostile to abortion rights.
According to Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organization committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights in the United States and globally, states enacted 338 new abortion restrictions between 2010 and 2016, which account for nearly 30 percent of the 1,142 abortion restrictions enacted by states since Roe v. Wade.
Furthermore, some 1,320 abortions were provided in Idaho in 2014, with a 23 percent decline in the abortion rate in Idaho between 2011 and 2014. Abortions in Idaho represent just 0.1 percent of all abortions in the United States.
In its 40-year history the Hyde Amendment has saved over 2 million unborn children since 1976, according to the Charlotte Lozier Institute.