WASHINGTON― The first bill the House of Representatives passed under President Donald Trump is a sweeping anti-abortion bill that would make the procedure more expensive for women.
The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act would make permanent the Hyde Amendment, which denies abortion coverage in health insurance plans for women on Medicaid, military servicewomen, federal employees, residents of the District of Columbia, women in federal prisons, and women covered by the Indian Health Service.
The bill also provides incentives for private health insurers to drop abortion coverage, bans abortion coverage in multi-state health insurance plans except in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment, and denies women and small businesses tax credits if they choose health plans that cover abortion.
Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), the author of the legislation, told colleagues at a committee hearing on Monday night that fetuses “need friends” in Congress.
“They need people who are willing to say, at the very least, ‘We will not provide taxpayer funding to facilitate your demise by either chemical poisoning or by literal dismemberment of an unborn child,’” Smith said.
House Democrats slammed Republicans for focusing on abortion out of the gate, just three days after the Women’s March on Washington, in which more than 3 million people protested to protect gender equality and reproductive rights.
“Roe v. Wade was not the beginning of women having abortions― it was the end of women dying from abortions,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.). “Women across the country are terrified that politicians are going to restrict their access to safe abortion, and clearly this fear is well-founded.”
Republicans in Congress may also go after birth control access. They have prioritized repealing the Affordable Care Act, which would revoke the requirement that insurance plans cover contraception and well woman visits at no out-of-pocket cost for women.
On Monday, Trump reinstated the “Global Gag Rule,” prohibiting U.S. foreign aid money from going to any global health program that provides or even mentions abortion. He signed the executive order surrounded by men.
“President Trump said he would put ‘America First’ in his inaugural address,” said Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.). “He can’t do that by marginalizing women around the world.”