A Quick Note on the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act”

Flickr/<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/dogra/224874995/sizes/z/in/photostream/">dogra</a> (<a href="http://www.creativecommons.org">Creative Commons</a>).


Politico notes that House Republicans plan to follow up on health care reform repeal with a “more targeted attack”: the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act”, which Reps. Joe Pitts (R-Penn.), Chris Smith (R-N.J.), and Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.) reintroduced this morning.

Politico says the bill aims “to prevent federal funding for abortion procedures” by codifying the Hyde Amendment, the restriction that has been attached to Health and Human Services appropriations every year since 1976, which prevents the use of federal funds to pay for abortions in programs like Medicaid. But almost every outside observer believes the bill (or at least the version of it that was introduced last Congress—I’m assuming there will not be significant changes) would do far more than that. Abortion rights advocates even say that the legislation could lead to the end of private insurance coverage for abortion. As I reported in a story last month:

Susan Cohen, the director of governmental affairs for the pro-abortion-rights Guttmacher Foundation, argued in a policy brief this fall that “the Smith bill would go…into uncharted territory” by preventing employers from taking a tax deduction for offering an insurance plan that covered abortion. (Like most other benefits, health insurance costs are generally tax-deductible for employers.) Analysts at NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood, the leading abortion rights advocacy groups, agree. According to abortion-rights advocates, Smith’s bill would create a huge incentive for employers to only offer health insurance that doesn’t cover abortion. Insurers would respond to what their customers wanted, and the percentage of health plans offering abortion coverage—currently 86 percent—would undoubtedly plummet.

While experts agree that Smith’s bill would have some impact on tax policies, not everyone buys the abortion-rights groups’ analysis. Timothy Jost, an expert in health law at Washington and Lee University Law School, says he agrees with the abortion-rights groups that the tax provisions in the Smith bill would mean that self-employed people and people with health savings accounts (HSAs) wouldn’t be able to treat abortions as medical expenses. But he doesn’t agree that the bill would prevent employers from deducting the costs of insurance plans that include abortion coverage. Nevertheless, Jost believes that “going after the tax subsidies that affect abortion” would represent a “substantial victory for the pro-life movement in America.”

Read the whole thing.

MORE HARD-HITTING JOURNALISM

In 2014, before Donald Trump announced his run for president, we knew we had to do something different to address the fundamental challenge facing journalism: how hard-hitting reporting that can hold the powerful accountable can survive as the bottom falls out of the news business.

Being a nonprofit, we started planning The Moment for Mother Jones, a special campaign to raise $25 million for key investments to make Mother Jones the strongest watchdog it can be. Five years later, readers have stepped up and contributed an astonishing $23 million in gifts and future pledges. This is an incredible statement from the Mother Jones community in the face of huge threats—both economic and political—against the free press.

Read more about The Moment and see what we've been able to accomplish thanks to readers' incredible generosity so far, and please join them today. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 total, during this critical moment for journalism.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.