GOP Introduces Four Anti-Abortion Bills Into Congress; Other Women's Issues at Risk
by Jo Freeman
The Republican Party’s capture of the House of Representatives has feminists worried. As the 112th Congress convened, feminists held meetings and rallies all over the nation’s capitol where they spoke about Republican plans to reduce or dismantle programs that protect women.
High on the Republican legislative hit-list (*see below) is abortion, as that is also an issue on which Democrats are politically vulnerable. A woman’s right to choose is the one feminist issue for which public support has declined over time. Even though a majority of the population still supports the 1973 Supreme Court decision, those who are opposed are well organized and vocal. Pro-life Democrats are more likely to be elected to Congress than pro-choice Republicans.
On January 20, House Speaker John Boehner called for the permanent banning of federal funding of abortions, saying it had "the highest priority." When the Republicans were campaigning in 2010 they said that jobs were the highest priority. His proposal was denounced that evening at a rally outside the Supreme Court, held annually around the time of the Roe v. Wade decision which legalized most abortions.
Since 1976 Congress has attached a Hyde amendment (named for former Illinois Congressman Henry Hyde) to each appropriations bill, banning federal funds from paying for abortions except in case of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. It primarily affects Medicaid recipients. Other laws deny federally funded abortions to military families, peace corp workers, federal prisoners, and other persons supported by federal funds. There is also a prohibition against federal funds going to any NGO that advises or performs abortions abroad.
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