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
Hey "Genius", It's already on the books...and it's hurt women ever since.
Yes, that will solve all of our problems. By spending most of congresses time on cutting this insignificant portion of the budget we will save 1,000s of jobs by spending less money. Way to make it look like you are doing something bonehead. The masters of the fake wedge issues are back in the house!!!!
screw jobs and screw america.
go have a cocktail
Lets cut the Boehner and the rest of the Republican officials government run health care that would save tax payers alot and if they don't want the people to have health coverage then they shouldn't have it either. WE PAY FOR IT. And lets take away the tax breaks for the wealthy, their not bringing forth any new jobs and some of you believed the Republican rhetoric about how the have these plans to bring back jobs. WHERE ARE THE JOBS!!! I hear a lot of noise but not one single idea for getting us back to work. And I do believe the Republicans slipped in a tax break for those companies that have taken our jobs over seas. Good going uneducated tea baggers maybe a little money into real education might bring out some intelligence.
Where are the jobs republicans promised when we voted for them. I think they fooled us again.
For those of you who were excited about the Republicans focusing on the economy they nearly destroyed ... wow ... the shortest honeymoon in history.
turn up that pandering to the uneducated Evangelicals!
thought is was jobs, jobs, jobs
Where are the job bills?
I'm still waiting on my republican friends to create jobs jobs jobs....NOT, gonna happen!
Not a single bill to create jobs....just pander to the right wing looney base with tax cuts, repeal of healthcare, abortion, death panels etc etc!!!!
This is one of the GOP's "highest priorities"?
I thought that jobs were their highest priority. No wait, its repealing health care. No wait, its allowing people to carry guns into the Capitol building. No wait, its ....
How many times can the newly elected republican leadership align there views as the will of the people? Abortion was purposely avoided in the last election , now its repeal is the will of the people? Boner hasn't learned a thing from the past, nor does he want any real change. They claim deficit reduction after they and W. expanded the national debt shamelessly, they were elected by a disenfranchised public who was frustrated at the lack of microwave recovery that came from just over 1 year in office by Obama. Polls have shifted just in the past few weeks in favor of a balanced democratic approach amongst factual data of a slow growing steadily improving economy. In 2 years Obama has saved wall street, the auto industry, maintained military defense, and expanded insurance to 32 MILLION Americans. WHAT DID W. DO in * years?
Glad it is only 1 of their priorities since federal funding of abortions is ALREADY banned.
JOBS, JOBS, JOBS! We don't want to hear your cultural, conservative bull crap! Nobody likes the idea of abortions but it is NOT a topic for BIG GOVERNMENT in any way, shape or form.
You want to impress me with a "prolife" position? Do something about killing people in false wars or executing innocent men in prison.
You want to impress me on healtcare reform, then stop your useless waste of time talking about repeal. You are showboating. I can get behind medical malpractice reform if a DIRECT link to lower costs can be captured in the legislation. But I want to kick your rear for right-wing-base grandstanding on "repeal" that will NEVER happen
hey grrace...it is your body and go ahead and do what you want with it. but how in the hell do you think that the government should pay for it! i'll bet you don't even have a job and aren't paying any taxes!
"one of our highest legislative priorities."
Didn't he say the same thing about cutting health care to anyone making less than the average GOP member?
Already law Mr. Job Killing (opps sorry – destroying) grandstander. Anyway, now that we've settled this issue, perhaps you could focus on jobs? Oh wait, couple rounds of marriage wars first, right?
So, let me get this straight; Republicans care about people before they're born but once they are alive and kicking, they want to cut you off at the knees?
Why do we have to pay for a woman's abortion???? Why can't she, her boyfriend or husband pay for it or her friends???? Why can't women just use the IUD intrauterine contraception method that keeps you from getting pregnant????
Speaker Boehner is well aware that the federal government will not pay for abortions. certainly every government employee knows that. It is just a way to stir up the electorate and provide his base of support another opportunity for another hot topic. Please Speaker Boehner get to the real issue jobs for the unemployed. that was supposed to be the first order of business – getting Americans back to work.
If a poor woman gets raped and becomes pregnant, we'll force her to carry the baby to term. On the other hand, those who can afford an abortion will have no problem. What a country!!
I am a conservative. I am opposed to abortion. We have problems even greater than abortion. Mr Boehner; PLEASE quit playing to the press and do what is best for our country. Thank you.
Um, I thought the number one priority was creating jobs?
GOP: You lie!
Great. Keep up the good work Boehner.
what happened to fixing the economy?
Federal funds are already banned for elective abortions you moron. What happened to jobs, jobs, jobs.
No you weren't voted because of healthcare or abortions, ITS THE ECONOMY STUPID. And come 2012 I won't be stupid and vote Republican again.