Yesterday and today House committees are holding hearings on two controversial pieces of proposed legislation, HR3, and HR358, both of which attempt to reduce access to abortion.
Jennifer Steinhauers’s piece in the New York Times has the most succinct explanations of the two bills I’ve seen anywhere. On HR3, for which the hearing was held yesterday:
One bill, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” would eliminate tax breaks for private employers who provide health coverage if their plans offer abortion services, and would forbid women who use a flexible spending plan to use pre-tax dollars for abortions. Those restrictions would go well beyond current law prohibiting the use of federal money for abortion services.
HR3 is the same bill that included the “forcible” rape language, which was supposed to have been removed; it apparently had not been removed as of Tuesday. Video of the committee hearing is online with captioning.
The second bill HR358, focuses on federal funding and tax breaks related to abortion; the hearing is being held today. Steinhauer explains:
Another bill, sponsored by Mr. Pitts, addresses the health care overhaul head-on by prohibiting Americans who receive insurance through state exchanges from purchasing abortion coverage, even with their own money. The bill is essentially a resurrection of a provision in the House version of the health care law but was not in the Senate version.
The bill would also permit hospitals to refuse abortions to women, even in emergency situations, if such care would offend the conscience of the health care providers.
It’s difficult to “see” this last point upon reading the bill, but critics of the proposed legislation have suggested that provisions added to the bill could override EMTALA, a law that requires emergency departments to treat or transfer patients regardless of their ability to pay.