Thursday, January 9, 2014

Ranking Member Conyers Opening Statement at Judiciary Hearing on Reproductive Rights


(WASHINGTON) – Today, the U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice held a hearing entitled, “H.R. 7, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.” Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) submitted the following statement for the public hearing record:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“Today’s hearing on H.R. 7 is yet another attempt to push a divisive social agenda instead of focusing on what Americans care most about:  creating jobs and improving our Nation’s economy. Rather than addressing these critical issues, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have chosen to use the first hearing of 2014 to attack – yet again – women’s health and their constitutionally-protected rights.

“To begin with, we must acknowledge that this hearing sadly reflects the Majority’s relentless on-going anti-woman, anti-family, and anti-child agenda, which dates back to the last Congress. For example, the GOP-led government shutdown last October robbed more than 9 million women and children of critical supplemental food assistance and health care referrals under the Women, Infants, and Children Program, known as WIC. The shutdown also left 19,000 children without early education and necessary social services provided by Headstart.

“Let’s be clear.  The so-called ‘No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,’ is not really about prohibiting federal funding abortion. Federal law already prevents that. The real goal of this bill is to make abortion and coverage for abortion services paid for by private individuals with their own money unavailable. It does this by adding restrictions and imposing an unprecedented penalty – by use of the federal tax code – on privately-funded health care choices made by women in consultation with their family and their faith.

“Let me also point out that the version of this legislation that we considered in the last Congress would have narrowed the already inadequate exceptions for rape, by further limiting funding to cases of ‘forcible rape.’ According to Mr. Doerflinger, who is here again with us today, this ‘forcible rape’ limitation was intended to ‘prevent the opening of a very broad loophole for federally funded abortions for any teenager.’ What a shocking admission. Fortunately, the Majority responded to the justifiable fury over this outrageous limitation by removing the term ‘forcible’ from the bill’s text. Unfortunately, they made clear in the Committee Report that accompanied this bill that they still intended to prevent the federal government from subsidizing ‘abortion in case of statutory rape,’ an exception that directly conflicts with the Hyde Amendment, which makes funding available in all cases of rape.

“H.R.7 also endangers women’s health by denying coverage even where an abortion is necessary to protect the health of a woman, in complete disregard of the Supreme Court’s dictates in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey.

“Further, the bill targets women in the District of Columbia by usurping the ability of the District’s local elected officials to use local revenue to provide access for abortion care. No Member would tolerate that level of intervention into local decisions to spend local money. Yet here we are again treating Americans who live in the District like second-class citizens.

“Finally, H.R. 7 makes an unprecedented use of the Internal Revenue Code to penalize private health care decisions by denying tax deductions, credits, and benefits for money spent to cover out-of-pocket medical expenses related to abortion services or to purchase health insurance that includes such services. Let’s call this legislation exactly what it is:  a tax increase on individuals, families or small employers who make a particular health care choice that some of my colleagues do not like.

“The overall impact of this bill is clear:  It will discourage most insurers from including coverage for abortion services in health insurance plans, which will effectively eliminate coverage that families across America now have and now pay for with their own money. In sum, this bill is a travesty.”


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