Republicans Likely To Push For Abortion Limits In New Congress
Well, so much for the idea that the incoming House Republicans would restrict themselves to the fiscal issues:
WASHINGTON — A leading Congressional opponent of abortion rights, who is in line to take charge of an influential House panel, plans to press for much stricter limits on the procedure.
The selection of the lawmaker, Representative Joe Pitts, Republican of Pennsylvania, as chairman of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health presages a major shift on abortion and family planning, according to opponents and supporters of abortion rights.
Opponents of abortion gained about 45 seats in the midterm elections, and they count the next speaker, Representative John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, as a staunch ally, virtually guaranteeing more conflicts with the White House on the issue.
Mr. Pitts was chosen last week as the chairman of the subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over private health insurance, Medicaid and much of Medicare, as well as the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health.
In urging Republican leaders to choose Mr. Pitts, the National Right to Life Committee said he had “made the protection of the sanctity of innocent human life the cornerstone of his service in the House.”
Representative Lois Capps, a California Democrat and an advocate of abortion rights, described Mr. Pitts as “one of the most anti-choice members” of the House. Given the midterm election results, Ms. Capps predicted that the new Congress would be “extremely hostile to a woman’s right to choose.”
Laurie Rubiner, vice president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said Mr. Pitts was “as anti-choice as a member of Congress can be.”
Pitts’ primary target would seem to be the new health care reform law:
“The new health care law is riddled with loopholes that allow taxpayer subsidies for coverage that includes abortion,” Mr. Pitts said.
He has introduced a bill that would, with extremely limited exceptions, ban the use of federal subsidies “to pay for any abortion, or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion.”
Of course, despite its other flaws, the Affordable Care Act does not allow for federal funds for abortion coverage:
Under the new law, health insurance plans are generally allowed to cover abortion. If they cover the procedure, they cannot use federal money to pay for it. People who enroll in such plans have to write two premium checks, one for abortion coverage and one for everything else, and insurers must keep the money in separate accounts.
Leaving aside the policy issue itself, it strikes me as mistaken for the GOP to divert itself from the economic and fiscal issues that were the primary factors that drove voters to the polls in November and concentrate not only on a social issue, but on a social issue that has been nothing but divisive for the past f0rty years. If I were a Democrat, this is exactly the kind of thing I’d want to see the GOP do.