The House voted Thursday to permanently end taxpayer-funded abortions, and to ensure that Obamacare is not used to help fund the purchase of insurance plans that cover abortion.
The vote was meant to pay tribute to the 42nd annual March for Life rally, which marks the anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.
Anti-abortion rights activists are connected with a red piece of cloth as they stage a 'die-in' in front of the White House in Washington on Wednesday. The House marked the rallies by passing a bill to permanently end taxpayer-funded abortions.
Image: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
Members passed the bill in a mostly partisan 242-179 vote that saw three Democrats vote for it, and one Republican vote against it. But while the bill passed, it was something of makeup call for Republicans who were hoping to pass an entirely different abortion bill earlier in the week.
Republicans initially started work on a bill to ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy, legislation that the GOP also passed in the last Congress. But it was held up by several Republican women who were worried about language that said the rape and incest exceptions to the ban would only be allowed if those crimes were reported.
Those worries led GOP leaders to scuttle the bill for now, although Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) said the legislation would soon be tweaked and brought up again in the House shortly.
Smith offered the substitute bill that passed today — the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act.
One piece of the bill would make permanent a ban on taxpayer-funded abortions that has routinely been approved as part of various spending bills for several decades. That policy has been carried out under the so-called Hyde Amendment, named after former Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.).
But the bill is also aimed at correcting what Republicans see is a major flaw in Obamacare that has allowed taxpayer money to subsidize insurance plans that cover abortions. The GOP has said for years that President Barack Obama promised that Obamacare funds would not be directed to abortion services.
But Republicans pushed for an investigation on whether it was still happening, and last year, the Government Accountability Office said more than 1,000 insurance plans available under Obamacare covered abortion.
"The president promised he would apply the Hyde amendment [to Obamacare], but he did not," Smith said.
While the Democratic Senate ignored the same bill in the last Congress, it's possible the new GOP Senate will call it up this year. However, Senate Republicans will need to pick up at least six votes to move the bill in the upper chamber.
Earlier in the day, the White House said President Barack Obama would veto the bill if it made it to his desk.
"The administration strongly opposes legislation that unnecessarily restricts women's reproductive freedoms and consumers' private insurance options," the White House said.