House passes restrictive abortion bill

May 4, 2011 at 7:56 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 4 (UPI) -- The U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday passed a bill intended to make permanent a ban on the use of federal funds to pay for elective abortions.

The vote was 251-175, with every Republican and 16 Democrats voting in favor of the bill, The Hill reported. The Senate is unlikely to take up the measure and the White House has indicated President Barack Obama will veto it if it passes, the newspaper said.

Republican supporters of the bill said during debate it codifies the terms of what is commonly known as the Hyde Amendment, a restriction on use of federal funds for abortion that has been routinely added to appropriations measures since the 1970s.

"A ban on taxpayer funding of abortion is the will of the American people and ought to be the law of the land," Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said.

Democrats argued the bill passed Wednesday improperly uses the tax code to enforce the funding ban, doing away with federal tax breaks for healthcare plans offered by private employers if those plans cover abortion, and preventing individuals from claiming the cost of abortion as a tax deductible medical expense.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., argued the bill would restrict women's healthcare choices.

"For the first time, this bill places restrictions on how women with private insurance can spend their private dollars in purchasing health insurance," Pelosi said.

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