House Passes Ban On Federally-Funded Abortions

On Tuesday afternoon, the latest generation of the No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act was passed by the Republican-dominated House. It'll now head to the Senate, where it's expected to be swiftly defeated by the Democrat-led chamber of Congress. Previous forms of the act, which would permanently ban federal funding for abortions, passed the House in 2011 and 2012, but came to nothing — and the same is expected this time around.

The Act itself is seen as little more than a message from the Republican Party to its conservative, religious base, assuring it that the Party still has its interests in mind. It also serves as an indication of what the GOP will try and pass if they gain a stronger foothold in the Senate and the White House in the next election, which is stirring for the far Right and concerning for everybody else. This year, the Party has named the bill H.R.7, a low number that symbolically assures Republican voters that anti-abortion measures are a top priority.

So what would the legislation do, it it did become law? Well, it would make the Hyde Amendment, a temporary, 40-year-old measure banning federal funding for abortions, into law. It would also take aim at Obamacare: For Americans who qualify for Obamacare subsidies, the bill would ban them from buying healthcare plans which cover abortion services. And small businesses wouldn't be allowed to use tax credits to cover healthcare plans which include abortion services.

But it's not this Act we should be concerned with — it's what it represents. Measures have been passed in 24 states that limit Obamacare's abortion coverage. Most recently, Michigan passed a bill that banned any insurance coverage for women in private health plans. Measures like this have been nicknamed "rape insurance plans," because they require women to purchase a separate rider if she requires an abortion.

Two weeks ago, a band of female Democrats staged a protest outside a House Judiciary Committee room, in which Republican men were holding a meeting about H.R.7. The protesters chanted, "Where are the women?" and held placards calling for an end to H.R.7.

Unfortunately, it's not the House's bill we should be worried about — it's the legislative branches of the scores of states that are limiting access to abortion.