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
Is it the government's responsibitlity to provide for us (jobs, food, money, etc.) or is it our duty?
And if we are unable to provide for ourselves, shouldn't provision be made on a local level instead of a federal level?
This is their priority...talk about fooling people.
Not, say, the thousands of Americans who have died in the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Or the millions of innocent lives being losted in various wars in Africa. The highest priority is preventing women from getting abortions.
All you Conservatives need to put your money where your mouth is and IMMEDIATELY cancel your health care coverage because the vast majority of plans cover abortion – including the plans carried by Boehner and all Representatives and Senators.
Don't believe me? Do an Internet search on "Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program" and then search that site for "abortion." It is not provided for "except when the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest."
He even says in his comments that it get added to funding bills every year and federal funds to not go the elective abortions. This guy is the biggest idiot since Bush and Palin and Hheney and Rush and Beck and O'rielly and Mitch.
Oh what the heck they are all idiots on the right.
And because your tax dollars won't be wasted on abortion...they will be wasted on supporting an unwanted and possibly unloved child through 18 years welfare. And then later...statistically...through our judicial and penal system because of a horrific upbringing. Yeah...that will save us a few bucks. (Rolling eyes)
Protect and Defend Freedom of Speech in the USA: And for victims of rape and incest? That's their "personal responsibility" to deal with it?
"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 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 bigot Bonehead and anybody that buys your rhetoric, your sanctimonious b.s., is a fool and a self centered, selfish piece of trash.
How any woman, Hispanic, African American or or middle class person could vote for these liars is beyond me. But they did! So to those voters who let the Taliban take the majority....live with it. You reap what you sow....Next they will tell us that the deficit can be reduced if only women wore berkas!
Obama signed an agreement two years ago that federal funding can NEVER be used for abortions........
It is a non-issue, another symbolic vote, and Boehner makes it the GOTP TOP PRIORITY....
He's a bonehead and people that complement him and the repubs on working non-issues are idiots.....
America needs JOBs bonehead..... What's your plan?.... You've had two years to think ONLY about jobs....
BTW...federal funds cannot be used for abortions already- Moron.
Boehner and the rest of his little clowns are going to cause another civil war in this country. I for one will GLADLY lock and load and look for the closet right-wing terrorist to me!!!
What about the JOBS!!
These guys protest if the government funds abortions, but NOT when their own private insurance companies do. And almost all insurance companies do! Check your facts! Check your hypocrisy! Why don't you take your principled stand to where you actually spend almost all of your health dollars: private corporations!
Right then. Glad to see our country is in such great shape. If THIS issue is our biggest priority, everything must be pretty rosie, right?
We Americans put them in the house so let us deal with what we are getting. They don't have the countries interest at heart, all they want to do is carry out their religious agenda.
In the words of Boehner himself: What's the rush? I thought Boehner wanted to make sure we don't rush any health legislation without having a real debate. Oh, but I guess that only includes bills it never wants to pass in the first place... like any bill that would limit the abuses by their corporate insurance buddies.
Deja Vu...all over again. Sounds like Tom DeLay style wedge issues to justify the GOP doing nothing yet again when they are in power. All they want to do is stall for time, invent distractions / gimmicks / games.
What about all of those that are already born that are unemployed!!!!!! Republicans are say they are all sbout getting government out of people's lives, until it comes to their reporductive choices or whom they want to marry.
Good job guys. Waste time and money on a bill to prohibit something that is already prohibited. Government doesn't fund elective abortions and hasn't for over a decade. While your at it, use the power of government to take away other rights of individuals. Who really believes in individual liberty? It sure isn't the Republicans.
Okay, who the hell is in charge of PRIORITIZING the Republican's agenda?
Is it taking down Obama?
Is it getting jobs to Americans?
Is it repealing healthcare and replacing it with..????
Now defunding abortions.
And who elected these clueless, spinning bozos back into office to do the same thing they did for the past two years:
This has to be the most deceptive man in Congress. "Come on in", said the spider to the fly.
Talk about smoke screens! First of all they already put the provisions in the new healthcare bill to ban the use of federal dollars for abortions. Currently there are no programs that allow this. So this is not even necessary. Second, I distinctly remember the comments about the president being out of touch because he was not spending enough time on jobs creation and I am wondering how this improves upon that.
Republicans-same old worthless product in a shiny new wrapper.
Abortion is a legal medical procedure. Move on to a real problem please!