What's in store for the Republican Party in 2014? Well, the GOP is coming your way with an agenda that continues their 2013 fight against abortion rights and contraception. In fact, they've decided that passing a 20-week abortion ban that challenged Roe v. Wade wasn't enough: This year, the Republicans aim to strike even further, from limiting abortion funding, to allowing employers to opt-out of providing certain medical provisions (read: contraception).
Here are three of the most prominent issues on the 2014 Republican agenda you should watch out for:
1. H.R. 7: No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act
This bill was introduced all the way back in May 2013 by Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) Now, it's Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) who's pushing for the bill, which would "prohibit taxpayer funded abortions and to provide for conscience protections, and for other purposes."
If passed, H.R. 7 would also prohibit any federal health care facility or doctor employed by the federal government from providing abortion. Plus, it would treat the District of Columbia as a federal area, a provision which has sparked the ire of D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray.
The exceptions to the bill? Abortion would be still a taxpayer issue if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, or if the woman's health is in life-threatening danger. And while the bill might pass in the House, the Senate has enough Democrats to give the bill a screeching halt. Luckily.
Unfortunately, over 20 state legislatures are already passing similar bills of their own, otherwise known as "rape insurance bills." So even if the House Republicans can't get H.R. 7 to pass, they have state legislatures to carry out their wishes.
2. The Obamacare Conscience Clause
You can thank Rep. Paul Ryan, of Romney and Ryan 2012, for this one. Next week, Congress is expected to pass a new Obamacare package, and Ryan is hoping to pass with it a rider that would allow employers to be exempt from covering contraception in their health care plans for moral reasons.
Ryan's been trying to pass the clause for three months, even though the Senate rejected the conscience clause 51-48 in Dec. 2013.
And this issue goes beyond House Republicans: American bishops will also be pushing for the conscience clause to pass. Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Conn. told the Washington Post, "We will not rest until the protection of conscience rights is restored and the First Amendment is returned to its place of respect in the Bill of Rights." And after the Senate rejected the conscience clause, the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference announced that it would push for it in the House.
Let's also remember that several federal judges have voted against Obamacare's contraception mandate, and that Sonia Sotomayor, of all people, appears to be on the House Republicans' side. Brace yourselves, ladies. This could be a tough one.
3. The March For Life
While this isn't a bill, the pro-abortion rally March for Life is definitely a part of the GOP's agenda that we need to keep an eye on.
Last week, the Republican National Committee announced that it would push the annual winter meeting to a later date so that Republicans could attend the March for Life on the D.C. Mall on Jan. 22. According to The Washington Times, the RNC will also provide a bus to and from the march for the 168 RNC members. Right.
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus told the Times:
I saw that there was a real interest among a significant portion of our members to attend and support the Rally for Life. This is a core principle of our party. It was natural for me to support our members and our principles.
And Alaska RNC member Debbie Joslin greatly lauded Priebus for his decision:
I have served under a number of chairmen and not one of them ever made any opportunity for us to attend the March for Life, and they always scheduled critical meetings for the same time as the March for Life. Big thanks to Reince for standing up for the unborn!
Why is this so important to know? Because the RNC's actions and words are very symbolic: they signal that Republicans are looking to take a very hard strike at abortion rights this year.
With this in mind, be prepared: This is only the beginning of the Republican agenda for 2014.