Rep. Johnson offers an amendment to Republicans' Abortion Tax bill No. 1
Rep. Hank Johnson amends Section 311 to provide the bill shall not take effect unless the Attorney General submits a report to Congress setting forth the effect of the bill on women’s access to abortion and health benefits coverage that includes coverage of abortion.
March 3, 2011
"Mr. Chairman, this is an important amendment. It is imperative that Congress know the effect this bill would have on women’s access to abortion and to health benefits coverage of abortion.
My amendment would delay implementation of the bill until the Attorney General submits a report to Congress setting forth the effect of the bill on women’s access to abortion and health benefits coverage that includes coverage of abortion.
Despite the Manager’s Amendment, this bill is still dangerous as it restricts health care for women. The decision about whether or not to have an abortion is a difficult choice for women. This is not a choice that is made lightly. This is a decision that women should have the right to make without government intrusion.
I find it ironic that the majority would interfere in such a private matter. My colleagues on the other side of the aisle have always prided themselves on the ideology that the government should not interfere in the personal lives of Americans.
They believe that the government should stay out of your wallet and out of the private contours of your home. I must say that I am baffled by the fact that the majority is pushing a bill that would directly interfere with a woman’s private choice of whether or not to have an abortion.
I am especially concerned about how this bill will affect the most vulnerable women in our society. Restricting public funding for abortion will especially hurt low-income women. Low-income women may have to sacrifice basic needs such as paying for groceries and rent to save money for an abortion.
The majority has already pushed through a Continuing Resolution that will harm all women, whether they are poor or middle class. The majority has already slashed funding for Title X which provided crucial family planning services. The majority has already eliminated federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
Now, the majority wants to push through a bill that would put another roadblock in front of women when seeking health care coverage. All of this amounts to nothing more than a full-fledged attack on women and their access to health care.
Some women who could not afford an abortion might be forced to resort to self-inducing abortions or to the back-alleys of untrained, unlicensed practitioners, which would compromise their health.
Alicia was a 26 year-old graduate student from Maryland. She had been through a lot in her short life. Her mother had been murdered, and after that she felt like her life had shattered into pieces. She was having trouble working, keeping up with school and supporting her one year-old child. She also feared eviction because she was behind on rent.
Alicia had no idea she was pregnant until she went to her school clinic to obtain birth control and took a pregnancy test. At that point, she had to sell possessions, forgo paying bills, and risk eviction to pay for an abortion.
To place more roadblocks in front of a woman in Alicia’s situation would just be mean-spirited.
Judging by the number of this bill, it is the third highest priority for the majority. At a time when America is digging itself out of a recession, and nearly 14 million people are out of work, and an unemployment rate of 9%, we should not be prioritizing bills that limit and restrict a woman’s access to health care services. We should be focusing on growing the economy and creating jobs.
Where I come from, actions speak louder than words. The majority has stated that one of its top priorities is job creation, and ensuring that every American who wants to work is able to work. However, the past couple of weeks have shown otherwise.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I yield back the balance of my time. "