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. annie s

    What a waste of time. The Hyde Amendment works just fine and the language baring money for abortion in the Health Care Bill will work just fine too. Oh well, America, you voted these turkeys into power.

    January 20, 2011 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  2. GL

    The party of no plans refuse to every put out any plan to get this contry moving forward. Thank you American voters that put this fools back in the driver set and I hope they bring this country down to it knees.

    January 20, 2011 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  3. Henry

    Here they go bring out that anti-abortion issue again just in time to make it a big issue during the election. Mark my words. Why do we keep falling for this nonsense. The issue is not abortion, it is a wedge issue that we will all get wrapped around the axle about.

    January 20, 2011 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  4. Tired of the nonsense

    Until you get a uterus of your own, Boehner, you've got no say about mine.

    January 20, 2011 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  5. Mick

    He could act like Pelosi and Obama and spend like they would never have to pay it back for two years but I think we will see something different happen. We know Sniffit and rest the liberal lapdogs will be watching and waiting for those jobs since Obama and company have driven us to double digit unemployment. Boehner will be better than Pelosi and friends but anything will be better than quadrupling our deficit in two years.

    January 20, 2011 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  6. Thatguy371

    Here we go again, Mr. Waterworks and his bad memory, you know, the guy who said JOBS JOBS JOBS. Yeah, where's the jobs jerkee-bway? Social issues? The populace isn't interested. Trash the health care bill (and my right to not be refused treatment for pre-existing conditions)? Brilliant. You repooplicans will never be on the same mindset as the American people, BECAUSE YOU DON'T WANT TO BE! Like W.C. Fields said... "Go away boy, you bother me".

    January 20, 2011 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  7. Dave

    We all knew it would happen... The GOP says one thing during election time (jobs) and they go right back to their old culture wars crap.

    January 20, 2011 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  8. cecilia

    Government funds to not go to fund abortions now you blow hole. Honest to God, I am so sick of the morally superior Republicans. they pack a gun in one hand a Bible in the other and off they go making the world a better place for the rich

    January 20, 2011 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  9. normajean

    Millions of people are out of work, thousands losing their homes, many have no health insurance, thousands of families are suffering in one way or another and right now this CLOWN John Boehner wants to talk about abortion. WHAT, WHAT.... IS HIS PROBLEM? Abortion is an issue to be dealt with but right now we have major priorities.Our problems are drastic and we need ever ounce of energy we can muster to keep our country from failing.The Republicans have NO plans for the future and no successes from the last two years. Tell me ONE bill that they have introduced, followed through on and became law. Just one! On the health bill, they said" " Repeal and Replace"...They are trying to repeal but there's no sign of any replacement. That's the Repubs for you !!!!!! There is NO replacement!!!!

    January 20, 2011 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  10. David

    The will of the people??? Maybe in Utah but certainly not in all of America. You GOPers need to realize that your opinion is no more valuable than those of all other citizens.

    January 20, 2011 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  11. gc

    I AM THE PEOPLE, HE IS NOT DOING MY WILL! Why is the will of the people only honored when the republicans get in?

    January 20, 2011 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  12. Dan

    I keep hearing about "nickel and dime" saving tactics; freezing pay, furloughs, taxpayer funded abortions, ad nauseum! You legislators better start cutting some big chunks of fat off of the US pig like getting us the hell outta Afganistan and cutting some big weapon systems at the Pentagon. I want to hear some REAL savings ideas (or money generating ideas) or I will be voting out all incumbents next voting cycle.

    January 20, 2011 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    The GOP is doing nothing but placating their base and blowing smoke to distract everyone else from the fact that they have absolutely NO PLANS to fix the economy. None. Nada. Zip.

    Their number 1 priority was supposed to be jobs. Their number 2 priority should have been balancing the budget. They're doing neither.

    In the lame duck session of congress they extended tax cuts for the wealthy which increases the deficit. This week, they vote on repealing health care which has no chance of passing the Senate and would be vetoed anyway. It's a waste of time and resources.

    Still waiting for some glimmer of leadership from the long will we need to wait?

    January 20, 2011 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  14. Jeffer65

    Congress should be concentrating on the economy and job creation. However I do agree with this bill. It doesn't stop someone from getting an abortion. If people want to kill their unborn child they should pay for it themselves. Roe vs Wade will never be overruled in my life time. Abortion is a political hot-potato. The Republicans need the abortion issue as a campaign tool. Its bait for the party's base supporters.

    January 20, 2011 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  15. 333maxwell

    One of the GOP's top priorities?

    Wow, I mean fine.. but there is NOT going to be any Federal funding, nor has there been since before the Hyde Amendment,
    nor will there be in the future. As a result is a battle that screams to be on the back burner while the focus is on improving the economy as the TOP and ONLY real priority, Anything else, until they get actual results on the big stuff, is wasting time and resources and near treasonous.

    January 20, 2011 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  16. TripleA

    Oh sure, the House Republicans are making a ban on tax payer funded abortions, over fixing the national economy, a top priority to fulfill a promise. Right, and Elvis is alive, runs a B&B for aliens from the Orion Nebula in Roswell, and President Obama is really the King of China and wears a fancy red hat to bed. How about… the Republicans (and the Democrats) haven’t got a clue about the economy, or how to fix it, so they throw the gullible public a red herring and waste time fighting over abortion.

    January 20, 2011 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  17. Mom of 4

    Didn't realize that federal funds paid for abortions.

    January 20, 2011 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  18. Me

    If federal dollars aren't to used to pay for abortions because there are people who pay taxes that are pro-life, then we should ban federal dollars to be used for killing people on death row for the people who are anti-death penalty, right? I'm just saying either stay out of these type of issues 100% or follow the same guidlines across the board.

    January 20, 2011 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  19. Kurt

    These people want to take abortion away from the peoples own decision too. They also want to get rid of welfare for people in need. So once these babys are born who is going to pay for some of these kids. GOP has got a big brainfart.

    January 20, 2011 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  20. Perplexed

    The GOP has proven to be very good at being against anything that benefits the women, minorities, middle and working class and poor. They are great at saying no, lying to get us into wars and increasing the deficit by giving tax breaks to corporate America and the wealthy. They don't mind spending trillions on unnecessary wars. However, there will come a time very soon when even their low information base will wonder what are they for. What solutions do they have for the mess they created, what are their plans for unemployment and the millions who are under or uninsured? When will they devote some time coming up with a strategy for those that are losing or have lost their homes. Some of these low information people will start to remember how we got in this mess and how they had 8 years to bankrupt the country.

    January 20, 2011 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  21. Brian

    Easy for a man to say... Let's hope he never has to face a family member who has been raped, molested, or is at risk of dying due to an unwanted pregnancy.

    January 20, 2011 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  22. Oregon Calling

    And none of us seen this one coming? How's that JOBS bill coming for you Congress? Because I am not seeing anything on that front.

    Peace ~

    January 20, 2011 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  23. Missy

    So it's ok to use our tax dollars to kill innocent children in the fake wasr we are in to steal oil, but women who are of child bearing age will be penalized if they want an abortion. IF YOU ARE AGAINSGT ABORTION THEN DONT HAVE ONE!!!!! Mind your own business. This is purely a way to discriminate against women because men dont get pregnant. Women can bear children from the age of 9 to late 50's that is a long time to penalize a gender. Personally I would want my daughter to have insurance to cover that because she should have the choice if needed.
    So where are the jobs? If anyone really believed the R's care you need a rubber room.

    January 20, 2011 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  24. Dr Matrix

    Isn't there already a ban on federal funds for abortion, and no provision in healthcare reform to change that. Smoke and mirrors to make the believers think they are actually doing something. We need jobs not theocrats wasting time with nothing. Maybe we could create jobs by hiring police to protect doctors who provide a legal medical service pad by insurance and people who need them from crazies like he is pandering to.

    January 20, 2011 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  25. Pat-San Jose CA

    Federal law requires that states cover abortions under Medicaid in the event of rape, incest, and life endangerment, and ALREADY BANS the use of federal Medicaid funds for any other abortions. So Boehner wants to stop federal funding of abortions for rape and incest victims and women who's lives are in danger!?!?

    January 20, 2011 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
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