Washington (CNN) - House Speaker John Boehner announced Thursday that the House of Representatives will consider legislation to permanently bar federal funding for elective abortions, calling the measure "one of our highest legislative priorities."
"A ban on taxpayer funding of abortions is the will of the people and it ought to be the will of the land," Boehner said at his weekly press conference on Capitol Hill.
Asked why House Republicans were making the social issue a top priority when GOP leaders have repeatedly said economic issues were their main focus, Boehner said he's making good on a promise Republicans made last year. "Our members feel strongly about the sanctity of human life. We listened to the American people, we made a commitment to the American people in our Pledge to America and we're continuing to fulfill our commitment."
The House GOP unveiled their policy agenda in their "Pledge to America" last fall, which put a heavy emphasis on job creation and fiscal responsibility. But in a nod to social conservatives it did include a short section mentioning the issue of abortion: "Americans are overwhelmingly opposed to using tax dollars to pay for abortion, and the executive order issued by President Obama in conjunction with congressional passage of the health care law is inadequate to ensure taxpayer funds are not used in this manner."
The bill, which Boehner labeled "HR 3" – the low number reserved for prominent legislation - was introduced by New Jersey Republican Chris Smith, who has pushed the issue for several years. Smith has advocated since the 1980s for permanent restrictions on federal funding of elective abortions. Currently, Congress renews those restrictions each year by attaching the so-called "Hyde amendment" to annual funding bills. It was named after the late Illinois Republican Congressman Henry Hyde who opposed abortion rights, and first attached the amendment to a spending measure in 1976.
Boehner reiterated his view that the compromise language included in the health care bill last year did not adequately preclude the federal government from using funds for abortions. During last minute negotiations before the health care vote last year, President Obama reached an agreement with a group of anti-abortion House Democrats and issued an executive order directing agencies not to use federal money for abortions.
"There is an awful lot of doubt as to where the administration is on this issue. I think the will of the people is that we enact this clear cut prohibition on the use of taxpayer funds for elective abortions," Boehner said.
The abortion rights group Planned Parenthood released a statement opposing the Smith bill.
Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood, said, "Republicans took control of Congress on a promise to create jobs, but instead, one of their first acts is to take away health insurance benefits that the majority of women currently have. The true intent of Congressman Chris Smith's bill is to end insurance coverage for virtually all abortions, including private insurance coverage that Americans pay for with their own money, even in cases involving the most severe dangers to a woman's health."
But Smith's office maintains that the bill includes exceptions for abortion coverage for victims of rape or incest, or in cases where the life of the mother is in danger.
Abortion rights advocates also object to a provision in the Smith bill that would prohibit those enrolled in insurance plans that cover abortion to claim tax deductions for high health care costs.
GOP leadership aides tell CNN a vote on the bill has not been scheduled yet.
– Follow Deirdre Walsh on Twitter @deirdrewalshcnn
Aaaaaalrighty then...and this creates jobs how?
"A ban on taxpayer funding of abortions is the will of the people and it ought to be the will of the land,"
And Obama agrees with you according to the agreement he signed to get the healthcare scam passed. It always has been the unwritten law but it is good to have it clearly spelled out. The liberals want government to pay for this sort of thing but it shouldn't be. It is your personal responsibility to deal with it.
Thank God for people who will stand up against our tax dollars paying for abortion. Best wishes to Mr. Boehner.
Mr Boehner and his colleagues need to realize that many real Americans don't hold his views on abortion but do pay taxes and do have legal rights.
Once again we see the right working to control not govern and prioritizing their own religious beliefs over freedom and liberty.
When the country has so many other more important issues, how does one justify imposing such a waste of time and taxpayer money.
The GOP is doing what is called in the work place "make busy work" which amounts to shuffling papers around like a deck of cards. They should be placed on the "Rediculous" list.
This will save a lot of mony – cut federal funds from Mr Boehners district. Close Write Pat AFB, OH.
I thought jobs and putting Americans back to work was the highest priority of this congress, where are the jobs John?
I thought these guys were against government reaching into our private lives
So what? The bill will get vetoed, the GOP members in swing districts will feel the heat and back off, and the issue will die as long as the Loony Right decides to focus on jobs instead of this predictable side show. I hope they show as much interest in the world these kids will be inheriting, which does not seem likely.
Just ask your GOP member if they believe in the 2012 apocolypse; chances are, they do. If they do, they will vote for all the short-sighted garbage possible.
Go ahead, waste your time and our money. If I have to pay for YOUR WARS, you have to pay for my abortion. Know why? This is a FREE country and I am not your freakin' DOG to order when and when not to have puppies. It's MY right, MY body. When we can all pick and choose where our tax dollars go, THEN you can waive your tax dollars from going to "abortions" and I can waive my tax dollars going to pay for YOUR WARS. It's called WOMEN'S LIBERATION from the TYRANNY of men like John Boehner.
Hey Bone Head, leave all of the social issues alone and do what you were elected to do and that is produce JOB.
Nevermind, come 2012 all of you reThugliCan't GOBPers Purtid Tea Scum will be voted out of office and then President Obama will be able to contnuie to move this country forward. rethugliCan't you got back i power and yet you have done nothing for the America people and you never will. I see America is turning into a third world country, thank rethugliCam't
Right.. it's not jobs, or the economy, or dependence on foreign oil, or ANY of the pressing issues of the day.
It's abortion. Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome back to the culture wars.
Where are the jobs, Mr. Speaker? Jobs, jobs, jobs! Get off that bar stool and create JOBS. The American people have spoken; the want jobs!
I see the "new" Republican Congress is STILL all about wasting tax payer's money and time! WHERE ARE THE JOBS??!!!!!!
For those of us who don't think the GOPers have any ideas, Boehner is signalling his agreement to us with this insistence of his to concentrate soley on social issues - the economy be damned.
Once again, turning their backs on their promises, blatantly ignoring the will of the people, and bowing down to the money that put them into power. "Unemployment? National security? Education? Heck, we don't need to worry about that none! Let's get on with the important bizness of doing what's going to get us re-elected! Pander to the narrow-minded zealots with deep pockets"
Another waste of America's time. Sigh. The Republicans are worse the Democrats. I didn't think it was possible.
Abortion is already banned from using Government money. Where are the JOBS you twit???
Funding of retro-active abortions will be continued.
And how many jobs is THIS going to create??? Oh yes. None. But it is another symbolic waste of time. Maybe they can spend next week creating "symbolic" jobs with "symbolic" wages and then help the "symbolically" employed convince their REAL creditors to take the "symbolic" money to pay the rent, bills, etc. These people are a joke.
So, apparently idiot boy wants to re-enact wire-coathanger abortions. What is this? The dark ages? Does Roe v Wade account for nothing?
THANK YOU SPEAKER BOEHNER!!! I am sick and tired of our tax dollars funding murdering unborn children.
I am for anti abortion but I have problem with GOP
‘Our members feel strongly about the sanctity of human life’
Republican only care about human before they born. That is ridiculous
Speaker Boehner...it's the economy stupid! Jobs, jobs, jobs.
Because nothing says "FREEDOM" like a bunch of old/young right wing nuts telling a woman what to do with her body!! You are going down come 2012. Keep going back to things that are already in place instead of your campaign pledge (excuse me while I choke) of CREATING JOBS!!!!!!!!
DON'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO WITH MY BODY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!