An anti-abortion bill could become part of the coming congressional debate over raising the ceiling on federal debt, lawmakers and political analysts noted after the measure that would trigger tax audits of rape victims cleared the House May 4.
The prospect is one anticipated by opponents of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 3) that easily passed the House and that has angered pro-choice activists.
Supporters of the bill called it a victory for the pro-life cause. H.R. 3 would ban federal spending for abortion and turn the Internal Revenue Service loose on rape victims.
Sponsored by Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), the bill includes a controversial provision that would require rape victims to face Internal Revenue Service scrutiny.
To win Senate passage, the measure could be tied to the effort to raise the federal debt ceiling, a bill likely to be embraced by Senate Republican moderates, whose votes are critical to passage in that chamber.
Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) said the GOP has “some leverage” to get the Senate to vote on H.R. 3. Franks is not alone in that approach. “What we use the debt limit to leverage is really up to the leaders, I would think this would be one of the bills that we could be asking for,” Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), an ardent anti-abortion supporter, told firedoglake.com.
Opponents of the bill said that the abortion act would turn IRS agents into “abortion cops” who will determine if victims received any tax benefit to fund abortion procedures.
Former IRS official Marcus Owens confirmed the dire consequences for rape victims in remarks to Mother Jones magazine.
” would have to demonstrate or prove ideally, by contemporaneous written documentation, that it was incest, or rape, or life was in danger,” Owens said. “It would be fairly intrusive for the woman.”
NARAL Pro-Choice America said that 13.5 million women who participate in government-sponsored programs and Medicaid would be denied abortion coverage, The Huffington Post reported.
“The American people overwhelmingly oppose using their tax dollars for abortions,” said Boehner’s spokesperson, Michael Steel.
Although the measure would face an uphill battle in the Senate, one strategy for passage is similar to the maneuvering used by House Republicans to force an amendment onto a key Senate bill a measure that would defund federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
As part of a larger agreement on the final continuing resolution, which was needed to fund the government, Senate leaders agreed to hold a separate vote on the Planned Parenthood amendment.
Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) in a statement said conversations with President Obama and the administration have led her to believe an Obama veto of H.R. 3 is likely, if the bill stands alone.