The GOP’s anti-abortion ‘army of IRS agents’

Last year Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann led the Republican charge against health care reform legislation, arguing that it would be the worst kind of big government intrusion. She warned it would insert government between Americans and their doctors and that the Obama Administration would let loose an army of IRS agents to knock on doors and force citizens to pay up for insurance. Yet, as Mother Jones reported last week, Bachmann and other anti-abortion Congressional Republicans this year have proposed a series of bills that would put government between women and their doctors and set loose the IRS to investigate how women who had abortions became pregnant and how they paid for their abortions.

The “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J. ), also known as HR 3, extends the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding for abortion in most cases. It has been given top priority by GOP House leaders and now has more than 220 co-sponsors. Last Wednesday, Thomas Barthold, chief of staff of the nonpartisan Joint Tax Committee, told a House tax committee that the bill would put the onus on the IRS to track how women are spending their health care tax benefits in order to discover if they used any of that money to pay for an abortion.

As Mother Jones put it, women would have to be sure to keep their reproductive health care receipts– and all other documentation related to their pregnancies.

If a woman paid for an abortion out of a health care tax benefit savings account, she better be able to produce documentary evidence that the pregnancy came about as a result of rape or incest or that bringing the pregnancy to term would have endangered her life– the three exceptions to the Hyde Amendment.

Monica McCafferty, director of marketing and communications at Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, told the Independent the bill would bring to life the horrors the right projected onto last year’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. There’s nothing “small government” about HR 3, she said. It puts no value on personal responsibility and liberty, opens the door for real government intrusion and increases taxes to boot.

“Under the guise of prohibiting federal funding of abortion, which is already banned, the true intent of Rep. Smith’s bill is to end insurance coverage for virtually all abortions even in cases involving the most severe dangers to a woman’s health,” McCafferty wrote in an email. “Since Rep. Smith and other cosponsors can’t outlaw abortion legislatively, they are instead unfairly creating intrusive policies that hurt women and families.  Abortion is legal medical care and the vast majority of health insurance plans already cover it.  Politicians shouldn’t try to stop insurance companies from covering a legal medical procedure.

“Ultimately this will result in new tax penalties that will affect thousands of Coloradans and tax payers across the country, especially those who are self-employed or small business owners.  This is an unprecedented intrusion in the private health insurance market.”

Here’s Bachmann last year decrying “Obamacare” on the floor of the House. Tea Party enthusiasts YouTubed her comments and added the ominous sound of IRS agents knocking on doors.

Colorado Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette, head of the House pro-Choice Caucus, has led the charge against the series of anti-abortion measures introduced by Republicans from the first weeks of the new Congress in January.

Colorado Republicans Mike Coffman (CO6), Cory Gardner (CO4) and Doug Lamborn (CO5) have signed onto HR 3 as co-sponsors. Freshman Colorado Third District Republican Scott Tipton has not signed on as a supporter of the bill.

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