WASHINGTON — The House approved a measure Wednesday to broaden a ban on federal funding of abortion and deny tax breaks for health plans that include abortion services.
The bill, which passed on a largely party-line vote of 251-175, is expected to be blocked in the Democratic-led Senate. Sixteen Democrats joined the Republican House majority in supporting the legislation.
The White House issued a statement Wednesday saying the bill intrudes on women's reproductive freedom and unnecessarily restricts insurance choices. President Barack Obama's advisers would recommend a veto of the bill if it passed Congress, the statement said.
Republican Rep. Chris Smith, who sponsored the legislation, said public opinion was moving against abortion. Ending public funding would save lives, he said.
"Today we seek to end taxpayer complicity in abortion violence," Smith said in a House speech. "No taxpayer should be coerced to pay, subsidize or facilitate the dismemberment, chemical poisoning, starvation or suctioning to death of a child and the harming of a woman."
Current federal policy prohibits taxpayer money from being used to fund abortion services. Any services or health plans that receive federal dollars must segregate the money from any abortion service funds. The bill would prohibit federal money going to any health insurance plans or services that include abortion services. It would also deny tax breaks for any health insurance plans that include abortion services.
Democratic opponents said the measure went too far.
"For the first time, this bill places restrictions on how women with private insurance can spend private dollars in purchasing health insurance," said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. "This bill will deny tax credits for women who buy the type of health insurance that they currently have - health insurance that covers a full range of reproductive care."
The bill also would prohibit the District of Columbia from using its own taxpayer money to fund abortion services and would prohibit including abortion services in any healthcare service provided by the local government.
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