SBC backs ‘No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act’

A bill to end public funding of abortion coverage under Obamacare is expected to be voted upon in the House but go nowhere in the Senate. President Obama has vowed he would veto the measure.

By Bob Allen

The Southern Baptist Convention’s political advocacy arm voiced support for a controversial bill that aims to tighten restrictions on federal funding of abortions in a letter to members of Congress Jan. 27.

russell moore mugRussell Moore, president of the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, urged House leaders and other members of Congress to vote yes on H.R. 7, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) with more than 170 co-sponsors.

“Fundamentally, nearly all Southern Baptists believe that each human life is sacred from the moment of fertilization,” Moore said. “Human lives in their earliest stages, Scripture teaches us, hold an intrinsic value equal to that of any other life — adolescent, adult or aged. We therefore believe every unborn life is worthy of protection.”

“Millions of other Americans, informed by their faith or simply by science, share this view as well,” Moore said. “For the government to compel Americans to fund the destruction of the smallest and most vulnerable among us, in violation of those firmly held beliefs, is unconscionable.”

Chris SmithCongressman Smith, a Roman Catholic and former director of the New Jersey Right to Life Committee, says the bill’s aim is to prohibit federal funding of insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Introducing the legislation last May, Smith invoked the then-current controversy around Philadelphia abortion provider Kermit Gosnell, who was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison for killing babies in his clinic by cutting their spinal cords with scissors.

“There are Kermit Gosnells all over America,” Smith said. “Some abortionists may have cleaner sheets than Gosnell, and better sterilized equipment and better trained accomplices, but what they do — what Gosnell did is the same — kill babies and hurt women.”

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called H.R. 7 “one of our highest legislative priorities.”

“This common-sense legislation reflects the will of the people and deserves the support of the House,” Boehner said

In addition to prohibiting the use of federal funds for any health benefits that include coverage of abortion, the bill would amend the tax code so that individuals cannot deduct medical expenses related to abortion except in cases of rape, incest or to save the mother’s life.

Opponents derisively tagged it a “rape insurance bill” that would give the IRS authority to ask a woman to prove that she has been raped.

Female Democrats including Rep. Judy Chu of California, Rep. Louise Slaughter of New York, and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton of D.C., staged a protest outside the House Judiciary Committee’s room in the Rayburn Office Building where a panel of Republican men was meeting about H.R. 7.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) penned a Huffington Post blog mentioning the bill alongside Republican Congressman Steve Pearce's memoir that argued that wives should "voluntarily submit" to their husbands, and former GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee’s suggestion that American women could "control their libido" rather than receive contraceptive coverage under Obamacare.

“My question to you is this,” Boxer said in the article addressed to House Republicans. “What century are you living in?”

Observers say the bill is unlikely to pass the Senate. If it should, President Obama has said he would veto it.

The White House issued a statement “strongly” opposing H.R. 7. “The legislation would intrude on women's reproductive freedom and access to health care; increase the financial burden on many Americans [and] unnecessarily restrict the private insurance choices that consumers have today,” the administration said.

The bill would also apply to the District of Columbia’s use of local funds, something the White House statement said “undermines home rule.”