Boehner: Barring federal funds for abortion one of GOP's 'highest' priorities
January 20th, 2011
04:27 PM ET
4 years ago

Boehner: Barring federal funds for abortion one of GOP's 'highest' priorities

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


Filed under: Abortion • John Boehner • Republicans
soundoff (152 Responses)
  1. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Republicans in congress need to give up their health care. Boner will do anything to get the electorate's minds off his campaign promise to focus on jobs. By the way, republicans are now taking credit for creating 1.3 million jobs in 2010 even though they voted against every job creation bill. They should change their party symbol to a large pile of crap.

    January 20, 2011 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  2. Bill

    I thought it was about "jobs, jobs, jobs". What a load of crap.

    January 20, 2011 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  3. Pretzel Logic

    This ought to really get the economy going and create jobs.

    January 20, 2011 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  4. Rick McDaniel

    Wrong thing to do.

    Keep your religion in the church, and OUT of government.

    January 20, 2011 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  5. D-NICE

    The republicans care more about a fetus than they do about the poor. It just goes to show that the republicans have your back until you are born, then you are on your own. The republicans are simply pandering to the bible thumpers, never saw that one coming. If these guys are so Christian why do they turn their backs on the poor and have parties at bondage clubs. Oh, that's right they're hypocrits..

    January 20, 2011 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  6. a6102658

    Another useless bill that will not pass the senate!!!
    Get to work Boehner !!

    January 20, 2011 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  7. BCrepublican

    Boehner is an idiot! When will we get some real republicans in office to take care of real problems instead of doing nothing but showboating and golfing. He doesnt know what reality is. I dont care for some of Obamas ideas but at least he was trying to help this country. Boehner and his cronies are nothing but do nothing liars with the iq of a second grader!!!! Next election all republicans have to be replaced with intelligent republicans. Or at least some that are not bought buy corperations.

    January 20, 2011 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  8. Shari from Madison

    I personally do not approve of abortion, but if I was a rape victim I'm not sure I wouldn't have an abortion. I know people say there is always adoption, but what about the 9 months of carrying your rapist's baby? Or what about when the mother's life is in danger? Do we trade the babies life for the mothers? All this being said, if the Repugnant republicans truly believe this is the highest priority I feel pity for them. What about the war? what about the families that are astarving in our country? What about the accessability of guns? I would think those should be a higher priority.

    January 20, 2011 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  9. PalmReader

    "Why do we have to pay for a woman's abortion????"

    If you mean why should abortions be federally funded, they aren't - hush, though. It is a well hid secret in GOPerville land and GOPers would like to keep it a secret for as long as possible.

    January 20, 2011 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  10. BestProfitBusiness = WAR

    Okay, first thing. No one and I mean NO ONE, even Planned Parenthood don't like abortions. But it is a woman choice what to do with their body. It is big government that gets in the way of woman's freedom to do what they want with their body. second thing, this will kill jobs in the healthcare field. These Rethuglicans just don't get it! Work on JOBS fools!!!

    January 20, 2011 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    "So the progressives think they can have a Supreme Court decision over ruled by the Executive branch? I guess they think this is Venezuela! These fools are a danger to our country."

    Ever heard of checks and balances? Last I checked, SCOTUS decisions are not inviolate if they can be shown to be tainted by the kinds of bias that would invalidate any other court's decisions. I question what kind of foaming-at-the-mouth hissy fit would take place if it became public knowledge that Sotamayor or Kagan attended closed-door meetings with the NAACP or ACLU or prominent LGBT organizations during the pendency of the inevitable SCOTUS proceedings on CA's Prop 8. You guys would be fit to be tied.

    January 20, 2011 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  12. NothingNew

    Huh – that is that is the plan for creating jobs and getting the economy going again. Good plan!

    January 20, 2011 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  13. whoa!

    Oh, you knew they were going to do this... Orange face is at it again. They don't want gov. in our lives except when they do want gov. in our lives telling women what they can and can't do with their own bodies. Hitler made women conceive and have babies too. Congratulations, GOP, you're in good company!

    January 20, 2011 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  14. Chuck in Jasper Ga.

    "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." Pretty ridiculous statement for anyone to believe, or to publicly make when your own record shows just the opposite. "Sanctity of Human Life". You republicans changing what you call yourself, Pro-Life instead of Anti-abortion, doesn't fool most people that think instead of follow like sheep. You call yourselves Pro-life because is sounds better than Anti-Abortion. It is nothing more than a public relations coined phrase to remove the negative image. Pro-life my a$$. If someone was pro-life, they damn sure would not be trying to repeal Health Care Reform Act. You know the LAW that passed that gives access to routine medical care for about 130,000 million people (more than 1/3 of our population), that do not have adequate insurance or no-insurance. Your a biot Bonehead and anybody that buys your rhetoric, your sanctimonious b.s., is a fool

    January 20, 2011 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    "Republicans care about people before they're born but once they are alive and kicking, they want to cut you off at the knees?"

    Well, duh, corporations need cheap oppressed labor from indentured servants and the military needs fodder. Aborted fetuses can't crunch numbers for rich investment bankers and financial advisors for meager pay and we can't throw aborted fetuses at third world countries we wish to exploit or destabilize for our advantage.

    January 20, 2011 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  16. Oy Vey Az

    Hey ... This is a load ... The Republicans are going to flap those big ears and bluster about a law that already exist ? As far as I can find ... .Federal funds can't be used to pay for abortions, except in cases where a woman's life is in endangered by carrying a baby to term, or in cases of rape or incest.

    January 20, 2011 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  17. grrace

    Big sue, I am not a DOG. When we can ALL pick and choose where and how our tax dollars are spent, I expect EQUALITY. Which means, if I am a poor women and can't AFFORD an abortion, I expect MY Government to which I PAY TAXES, to help me out when I need it. Poor women deserve access to help. The GOP is attempting to cut-off ALL access to abortions. Period.
    And don't assume anything about me, because your comments are way off base...

    January 20, 2011 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  18. GI Joe

    Funny - I thought they got vote in to do something about jobs. Where are the JOBS Boner?

    January 20, 2011 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  19. a6102658

    Republicans making the same mistakes again...Social issues are first in the agenda..people are out of work.
    Republicans and Tea Party want the government out of our lives and only in the parts they don't like, how accommodating. telling women what to do with their lives, why do Republicans hate women so much?

    January 20, 2011 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  20. L

    We're against restrictions on freedom until it's one of our causes.

    January 20, 2011 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  21. irene

    How exactly is this supposed to fix the economy or create jobs? Clearly, the GOP doesn't care about the people, just about their own myopic views to destroy the separation of church and state. BTW: Federal funds don't pay for abortions now. Boehner is full of himself for wasting the taxpayer's time and money on this.

    January 20, 2011 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  22. db

    Now if they would pass a bill to stop tax dollars from funding idiotic wars, we'd be all set.

    January 20, 2011 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  23. GI Joe

    I'm against abortion - if a man gets a woman pregnant and the woman doesn't want that baby, CUT OFF HIS PENIS and give him the kid to raise and pay for. That will cut down on pregnancies, PERIOD.

    January 20, 2011 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  24. joe RN

    Oh this will help create jobs, right? Here we go again, the head neo com trying to control women from making their own choice, and I thought that the GOP wanted to stay out the way of the doctor patient relationship. The GOP care more about the unborn than they do about those are already here. The GOP is finished, just sit back and watch them self destruct in the next two years. The Speaker of the house cares more about his tan and smoking coffin nails, than a womens right to choice.

    January 20, 2011 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  25. gt

    all the people who cry choice need to read cnn story on Dr. Kermit... then see if you want to spend tax dollars on abortion...

    January 20, 2011 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
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