Cortney O'Brien

A testy hearing on a touchy subject took place on the House floor this morning. But, before the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice could introduce its witnesses and begin the debate on whether or not American taxpayers should have to fund abortions, in regards to H.R. 7, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, they had to get past Round One. For several minutes, Chairman Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) argued whether Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) could testify about the legislation on behalf of her district in Washington, DC. The subcommittee, voicing a rule previously agreed upon, ultimately rejected her testimony.

In October, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) introduced the pro-life legislation in an effort to inform Americans about the abortion surcharge more or less hidden in the pages of their health insurance plans. The fee violates religious consciences across America and many may not even be aware their money is funding these procedures.

H.R. 7, however, would codify policies such as the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits funding for elective abortion coverage through any program funded through the annual Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Act.

At the top of the hearing, Franks criticized the president’s health care law for providing for federal taxpayer funding of abortions. When Mr. Nadler took the mic, however, he said the H.R. 7 legislation is “misleading:

“For the first time ever, it denies tax deductions for women who use their own money to pay for abortion. Respect most personal private decision they may make and denies itemized tax deduction for medical expenses for abortion.”

For a clearer summary:

Nadler also noted, “The power to tax is power to destroy right to choose.” But, I would change the language a bit: “The power to tax is the power to destroy life.”

That wasn’t the end of Rep. Nadler’s complaints. The congressman became noticeably irritated when insisting that Rep. Norton be allowed to speak. As the representative for Washington, DC, Norton's situation is unique because the Act would affect local funds in her district, Nadler said. Therefore, he insisted it would be a “common courtesy” to allow her to talk.

What Nadler didn’t note, however, is that in D.C., many of the available insurance plans include abortion funding.

When Franks said they did not require her to testify, Nadler, frustrated with the committee, declared he had “never seen someone be so mistreated.”

Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) spoke up to inform Nadler that Rep. Norton was not a member of the subcommittee and, based on a decision made prior, "she was not allowed to participate, but was welcome to submit materials.” Nadler still wasn't appeased, though and brashly noted the “rudeness of the subcommittee” and asked for consent for Norton to submit materials.

With Rep. Norton sitting silently in the front row, the witnesses finally offered some insight.

Helen Alvare, a law professor at the George Mason University School of Law, went first, telling the subcommittee, “Abortion is not a part of any women’s health agenda. It’s different than anything else the federal government might fund. It’s not like any other medical procedure."

She also noted, interestingly, that, “The wealthy support funding for poor more than poor themselves.”

Dr. Susan Wood then offered her pro-choice counter point, “It [HR 7] would affect women around country – those struggling to make ends meet […] It’s an attempt to interfere with a woman’s decision making.”

It’s worth noting that The Hyde Amendment, which pro-choice advocates demonize, has allowed for 675,000 fewer abortions each year. I implore you to do the same as Mr. Goodlatte suggested and “let that sink in a few precious moments.”

If Norton did get the chance to testify, how could she against such encouraging numbers?

Anyway, what he said:


Cortney O'Brien

Cortney O'Brien is a Townhall web editor. Follow her on Twitter @obrienc2.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography