Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 7, deceptively titled the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, the content of which is much broader than its title reflects. The bill includes restrictions that would block insurance coverage for abortion care in both federal programs and private insurance, thus making abortion unavailable for nearly all women in this country. This bill also makes permanent the discriminatory Hyde Amendment, a 1976 appropriations rider that prohibits federal funds from paying for abortion services. Introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), H.R. 7 also removes tax credits and deductions for families and small businesses seeking insurance plans with abortion coverage.
Here are three ways this bill hurts women:
1. H.R. 7 restricts abortion coverage for nearly all women
This sweeping abortion bill forces women to cover their own medical expenses for abortion care and disproportionately affects women who face barriers to receiving care, including low-income women, immigrant women, and women of color. Studies have illustrated that a woman who is denied abortion care is three times more likely to fall into poverty than one who has access to an abortion.
2. H.R. 7 could prompt insurers to halt abortion coverage
Insurance experts caution that the legislation might push insurers to exclude abortion coverage in all instances, as H.R. 7 prevents women from claiming the premium tax credit if they select comprehensive health insurance that includes abortion coverage. Insurance providers are unlikely to provide services that most women would be forbidden from purchasing with their own funds.
3. H.R. 7 penalizes women with high-risk pregnancies
This bill endangers women’s health by eliminating abortion coverage even in cases in which a woman needs an abortion to prevent severe, permanent health damage. Furthermore, families without abortion coverage could face exorbitant costs and even bankruptcy if they were forced to pay for the procedure out of pocket.
This bill is clearly another political attempt by conservative policymakers to restrict health services for women. After many failed attempts to make abortion illegal, these lawmakers have seized reproductive rights from women by ensuring that affordable abortion care is inaccessible.
Heather Schultz is an intern with the Women’s Health and Rights program at the Center for American Progress.