House OKs Limits on Tax Breaks for Abortions

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WASHINGTON -- With more than 60 percent of Americans saying they don't want their taxes used for abortions, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 251 to 175 Wednesday to permanently ban that funding.

Congress has been voting every year since the 1970s to prevent federal funds from paying for abortions.

Pro-life leaders like Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., said the ban is necessary with both a pro-choice U.S. Senate and the executive branch of the government.

"President Obama has been, sadly, the abortion president," Smith said at a press conference Wednesday.

But that also means the Senate isn't likely to pass the ban, and even if it did, Obama would veto it.

Still, passion ran high Wednesday as pro-life legislators argued for the ban.

"As a physician, a family physician who has practiced for 34 years, I can tell you that the taking of innocent life is not health care," Rep. John Fleming, R-La., said.

"And while abortion has been ruled legal by the Supreme Court, in no way does the ability to perform an act require taxpayer funding of the act, especially when it goes against most of their sacred beliefs," explained Rep. Renee Elmers, R-N.C.

Private citizen Nancy Tanner joined the pro-life lawmakers to voice how much she regrets the abortion she thought would be a quick fix.

"No woman can go through an experience where they take the jar with your baby's body parts and dump it in front of you to count pieces, in front of your eyes," she said. "Makes you think that this is going to be a quick and easy fix."

As the House debated the ban, pro-choice Democrats attacked the bill as unnecessary and not really about funding.

"This is about whether we should use the tax code as a moral club to impose the religious beliefs of a few members of Congress on the entire nation," Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., said.

"The right to choose is absolutely meaningless without access to choice. And HR-3 creates obstacles to access safe, legal, and constitutionally protected health care," argued Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y.

Pro-life Republicans fired back that their bill isn't about outlawing women's choice.

"HR-3 is about insuring that taxpayers aren't on the hook for paying for that choice," Rep. Rich Nugent, R-Fla., said.

Democratic Iowa Rep. Bruce Braley even claimed, "There are no taxpayer dollars being used to pay for abortions. None. Zero."

But Republicans countered that without a ban, the government itself estimates it would pay for.

"As many as 675,00 abortions each year," Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, said.

"And forcing taxpayers to pay for the indiscriminate killing of helpless little baby Americans is not good government," Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., said.

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Paul  Strand

Paul Strand

CBN News Washington Sr. Correspondent

As senior correspondent in CBN's Washington, D.C., bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress.  Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulStrandCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/PaulStrandCBN.