As their next priority, House Republicans are introducing a measure to strengthen a ban on the use of federal funds to pay for abortions and to end federal subsidies for insurance plans that include abortion services. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Christopher Smith (R) of New Jersey, would permanently ban taxpayer funding of abortions across all federal programs. It also guarantees “conscience protections” for health-care providers, including doctors, nurses, and hospitals. “It is one of our highest legislative priorities,” said Speaker John Boehner at a press briefing on Thursday.
A similar proposal nearly scuttled health-care reform in 2009, as conservative Democrats broke with their caucus over the issue. Most lost their reelection bids, leaving today's Democratic caucus more committed to defending abortion rights.