WASHINGTON, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed a bill restricting federal funding of abortions after abruptly dropping a bill that would outlaw most abortions past 20 weeks.
The vote, 242-179, was mostly along party lines, with one Republican voting against the measure and three Democrats voting for it.
Currently, the law restricts the use of federal funds toward abortion services, except in the case of incest, rape or if the mother's life is in danger. The bill, similar to one passed by the House last year, is meant to tighten restrictions in relation to the Affordable Care Act.
"It makes matters worse," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said of the bill. "It makes permanent the Hyde amendment. We haven't done that before."
"For years prolife Americans have been forced to watch as taxpayers subsidize procedures they are morally opposed to," Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., said in support of the bill.
A Statement of Administration Policy indicated the president would veto the legislation if passed.
"Longstanding Federal policy prohibits the use of Federal funds for abortions, except in cases of rape or incest, or when the life of the woman would be endangered. This prohibition is maintained in the Affordable Care Act and reinforced through the President's Executive Order 13535. H.R. 7 would go well beyond these safeguards by interfering with consumers' private health care choices."
The vote coincided with the annual anti-abortion March for Life rally at the nation's capital. Demonstrators gathered on the National Mall to protest the 1973 Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion.
The House voted on the bill on the same day Republicans abruptly dropped a bill that would outlaw most abortions past 20 weeks after some female lawmakers said the language was too restrictive and would alienate some voters.
The "Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act," sponsored by Arizona Rep. Trent Franks, was intended to ban so-called late-term abortions, raising the ire of women's rights activists and pro-choice proponents. The bill began losing footing last week during a closed-door GOP retreat, when several House members expressed concerns the issue would turn away younger voters. At the last minute, support for the bill fell apart when a large number of women in Congress raised questions about only allowing exceptions for rape victims who have reported the crime to police. An estimated 70 percent of rapes go unreported.