Congress nears vote on abortion funding measure

    After months of focusing on economic issues, lawmakers in Washington, D.C., are likely to turn back to a contentious abortion debate by the end of the week.

    A bill introduced by Congressman Joe Pitts of Chester County that would ban federal funding for abortions will likely be voted on by the House of Representatives by then.

    The bill would prohibit federal funds from helping to pay for any private insurance plan that covers abortions.

    That means a woman who qualifies for a federal subsidy to help pay her insurance premium under the Affordable Care Act could not use that subsidy toward a plan that covers abortion. Those who earn up to 400 percent of the poverty level will be eligible for those subsidies.

    Judy Waxman of the National Women’s Law Center in Washington said she is worried the move would push plans that include abortion out of state-run health exchanges.

    “If (people who qualify for subsidies) could not buy a plan that covered abortion, then it’s quite likely that no plans would offer abortion coverage at all,” Waxman said.

    Proponents see the bill as simply an extension of the Hyde Amendment, which already prohibits federal funding for abortions under Medicaid and federal employee health plans.

    “Regardless of your party, there’s a lot of folks who think, well, abortion might be something that a woman should have a choice to do, but (they) don’t think the federal government should subsidize it, and that’s our view,” said David Christensen, who is with the Family Research Council, a Christian anti-abortion group backing the bill.

    The bill is expected to pass in the House, as measures to cut Planned Parenthood funding did in the spring. It’s expected to be a tougher sell in the Senate.

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