Boehner: Barring federal funds for abortion one of GOP's 'highest' priorities
January 20th, 2011
04:27 PM ET
7 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. Chris Meece

    We can all agree that jobs are important. But the murder 50,000,000 babies in the US since 1973 trumps this. Today one third of all pregnancies end in murder. How heartless and cruel some of you are to suggest jobs are more important than stopping this massacre. Actually this is beyond heartless, this is pure evil. The blood of all these murdered babies are on your hands. Going to a abortion clinic doesn't make a woman unpregnant, it simply makes her the mother of a dead baby.

    January 20, 2011 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  2. Larry

    If they are serious about fertilized eggs being "children" then they need to withhold all funding and tax deductions for in vitro fertilization clinics. But they wouldn't dare. Hypocrites!

    Fine, I want to ban any tax deductions for couples that have more than two children; one child for singles. I don't have any children and I believe strongly in education, but why should I pay for more? They are a burden to society and running up the costs of education for all. There won't be any jobs for them anyway.

    January 20, 2011 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  3. GOP = Greed Over People

    " will consider legislation to permanently bar federal funding for elective abortions, calling the measure "one of our highest legislative priorities."

    Fine, and you and the baggers will have my full support, when I can designate that none of my tax dollars go to elective wars to started to fill the coffers of big business and built on the coffins of young Americans!

    JOBS, JOBS, JOBS, I thought THAT was the highest priority during the campaign, you hypocritical liar.

    Yet, not a word about JOBS, only grandstanding about a useless repeal and now anti-abortion crap.

    January 20, 2011 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  4. Renaissanceman

    Whether you agree with abortion or not, is not the issue here. Since many think that it is a taking of life, it should not be paid for by public funds. This does not take away the right for woman to choose abortion, just her right to have the tax payers fooot the bill.

    January 20, 2011 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  5. Tricia

    @seebofubar wrote THANK YOU SPEAKER BOEHNER!!! I am sick and tired of our tax dollars funding murdering unborn children.

    But ur ok with taxpayers funding the WAR that murders millions of ppl and sometimes unborn ones? Ur a real winner

    January 20, 2011 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  6. tom az

    They can use some of my tax money to pay for it. After all i pay taxes and vote.

    January 20, 2011 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  7. kayla

    shari, i agree with you. you call them (the repugs) hypocrites, they could not care less about anybody but themselves. besides i thought their number 1 priority was JOBS. as you can see they have or had no plan for america, but to get back into power.

    January 20, 2011 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  8. Mike Dallas

    Focus on jobs, Mr Weeper of the House.

    You, know that thing you will not have i 2012 if you keep this deflecting up and trying to hide the fact the party of cons is just that a party of cons with no clue how to create jobs.

    Most of us are starting to see that, you may want to check your latest approval rating in the polls.

    January 20, 2011 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  9. A woman

    This is a priority????! Leave women alone you pigs, and go after the thieves of our economy. Oh wait you work for them, while pretending to be public servants. Another distracting social issue to shift the focus , they will do anything.

    January 20, 2011 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  10. Brenda

    I don't personally believe in abortion; however, the Republicans are hypocrites. Sarah Palin has mocked Michelle Obama for her stance on childhood obesity by saying that the first lady should stay out of peoples' personal choices. According to her, no one should tell her children what to what about telling a country of women who do not choose to have a child but cannot afford an abortion. Hypocrites...hypocrites...God, I HATE a hypocrite.

    January 20, 2011 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    "Sniffit, I want you to look back at your list and tell me which ones are the actually responsibility of the Fed."

    Sorry, dude, but when the legislation falls within the purview of the Commerce Clause, the Necessary and Proper Clause or other clause determining the purview of Congressional power, CONGRESS GETS TO DECIDE what their responsibility is, which in each and every case of what the GOP wishes to eliminate, is precisely what Congress did after hearings etc. This isn't a Constitutional question, it's a policy question, which is why my list opints out what is driving GOP policy behind doing things like eliminating low income legal assistance that overwhelmingly goes to benefit people like lower income domestic abuse victims (35% of it) or lower income indivduals who haven't the resources to protect their interests from banks in foreclosures and bankruptcy proceedings (somethin liek another 25% of it). Can you tell me with a straight face that protecting these fellow citizens, be it from their abusive spouse or uber-powerful banks, etc., so that the fairness of the process and the judicial system is ensured and their rights are fairly adjudicated, is not a legitimate governmental interest and activity? If you can, you either have no soul or you've bought into the GOP's repetition of baseless talking point blather that private charity will see to it or characterizing all low income individuals and families as lazy and stupid and irresponsible....or maybe you're both soulless and gullible.

    January 20, 2011 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  12. grrace

    No one is "murdering 50,000 'babies,' unless you're talking about the babies bombed in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's sometimes necessary to abort a fetus, and if it isn't YOURS you have no say. Ditch your church at the door.

    January 20, 2011 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  13. John Boehner the Smegma of Mankind

    You are indeed taking back the country, right back to the '80's!

    January 20, 2011 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  14. Dan

    Where are the jobs?

    We voted you into office because you promised to spend every day working on jobs.

    We also voted you in because you promised to cut $100 billion in spending in the first few days of office. We are still waiting.

    Thou shalt not lie.

    January 20, 2011 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  15. S. In California

    @ Claudia, Houston, Tx

    I laughed until I cried. Thanks. You said it all. Too funny.

    January 20, 2011 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  16. skippy

    Well, I'm happy to see that most of the posters feel the same as I do. Boner-Boy needs to get his priorities in order. Not to worry, he won't get what he wants. It has to be passed by the Senate and the Cons don't have control there.

    As for 2012; the American people will see what these Conservatives do in the next 2 years and it will be Adios for them.

    And watch and see Obama whup ass in 2012. He will still be here!!

    January 20, 2011 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  17. GonzoinHouston

    And this bill will be passed on a party-line vote, just like health-care repeal. And the republicans will congratulate themselves on keeping a campaign promise, just like health-care repeal. And this bill will go to the Senate, and Harry Reid will assign it to a committee, and it will never be heard from again, just like the health-care repeal.

    At what point are the House republicans going to quit wasting time on never-pass bills and work on something actually useful, like a budget or jobs bill?

    January 20, 2011 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  18. DIANA

    You want the government to stay out of our lives, yet what you're doing is getting into our lives. Earlier today, there was a story about a "doctor" who performed illegal abortions killing women in the process. Is this where we're heading? Where are the jobs?

    January 20, 2011 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  19. Shannon Gr

    Here we go once again. The GOP was elected for what, just to roll back everything Obama has accomplished. I guess will never see any new jobs created under their watch. Now isn't this the group (GOP) that knows what the American people want.

    January 20, 2011 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  20. Marty, FL

    Speaker Boehner, where is the focus on jobs??

    This political diversion appears to be another waste of time and our tax dollars, since the Hyde Amendment already deals with this issue for no federal funding for abortions. Enough of the political games, please, when there are more important issues to address for our country.

    January 20, 2011 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  21. Russ

    I am sorry, but I pay a lot of damn taxes and I want my TAXES to help fund abortions so I don't have to pay for the government sponsered aid programs to raise them. Remember Bonehead, there are others out there that pay taxes besides you bible thumping self-rightous do gooders. And we don't want to raise these unwanted kids. So either you adopt them or let my tax dollars fund abortions.

    January 20, 2011 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  22. gena smith

    You Promised Jobs.
    Where are the jobs.
    I don't care about the health care bill right now. I Neeeeeed a job. I waaant to work.
    I'm not one of those people thay you republicans accuse of wanting to milk the system. I've worked all of my life that's all that I know how to do.
    You're not doing what we elected you to do.
    You're Fired.

    January 20, 2011 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  23. tom

    But I as people want it. I mean government can fund millionaire pockets using tax cuts why not this?

    January 20, 2011 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  24. lieNoMore

    These republican pinheads still don't get it and don't even know why they were elected. The public is mostly for the healthcare plan and mostly against the freebies handed out to the insurance companies in the Obama bill. The folks in the Tea Party are mostly FOR individual rights and they do not want government meddling in individual choices of which abortion is. Whether it is covered under some government plan or a private plan the individual should be allowed to decide what is best for their life. Right, Left, or Center everyone pretty much agrees that bureaucrats suck and should stay out of personal matters, get with program Bonehead Boehner.

    January 20, 2011 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  25. Nadeem

    First bogus health care repeal now this. What a joke, have the GOP learned nothing.

    January 20, 2011 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
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