If you thought the abortion battle during the health care debate was fierce, just wait until Republicans take over the House in January. Strengthened by congressional victories in the midterm elections, Republican abortion foes plan to push hard in the new year. Their top goals: enshrine tough restrictions on abortion funding into federal law and defund Planned Parenthood. And they'll have Democratic help to do it.
The tip of the spear when it comes to GOP efforts advance anti-abortion legislatin is the the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (HR 5939), which was introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and already has 185 cosponsors. The bill's goals were highlighted in the GOP's "Pledge to America," and future Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) has repeatedly emphasized his continued commitment to anti-abortion legislation. After Republicans won control of the House, LifeNews, an anti-abortion rights website, trumpeted Boehner's promise that he "won't compromise" on key issues like abortion legislation. The site made special mention of Smith's bill. (Smith's office didn't return multiple phone calls requesting comment.)
The current rule preventing most federal funding of abortions, the Hyde Amendment, has to be reauthorized every year. While the amendment has been re-upped each year since 1976, the annual reauthorization fight often forces opponents of abortion rights, who generally have a majority in the House, to negotiate with supporters of those rights, who often hold a majority in the Senate.