This was a vote on a resolution setting a time limit for debate and prohibiting amendments to legislation prohibiting federal funds—including tax credits and deductions--from being used for abortions or any health care coverage that includes abortion services.
The underlying bill provided for an exception to this prohibition for abortions resulting from rape or incest. However, the measure could also alter the federal definition of rape so as not to include statutory rape. (In other words, only sexual assaults that involved physical force would be recognized as rape under federal law.) The bill’s text does not redefine rape. However, the bill’s committee report—a report issued by the congressional committee that drafted the bill, and the document that would be used by the courts to determine Congress’ intent when interpreting the legislation—indicated that Congress had intended to use the narrow definition of “forcible rape.” In other words, if the underlying bill were to be contested in the courts, Congress would be on record as having redefined rape so to exclude all sexual assaults that do no involve physical force by the rapist.
In addition, the underlying bill barred local tax revenue collected in the District of Columbia from being used for abortions.
Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) urged support for the resolution and the underlying bill: “I do rise in very strong support of this rule as well as the underlying bill, H.R. 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act….as a practicing OB/GYN physician for nearly 30 years, I believe that all life is sacred. The issue of abortion is a very personal issue for me as it is for many people across the country and for many Members of this body. However, that is not why we are considering this legislation on the House floor today. Instead, we are here to answer one simple question: should American tax dollars be used to fund abortions? When an elective choice can decide life and death, should the federal Government be allowed to use tax dollars to pay for that choice?”
Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) opposed the resolution and the underlying bill: “I've served in three legislatures, and in every one of them were always men in blue suits who knew very little about the life-altering experience of pregnancy and birth who demanded this kind of action.….Most egregiously, this bill has put a dangerous provision into the committee report that accompanies this bill. Please listen up. You need to know what this says in this report language, which is as important as the bill itself. That report language states that the legislation is intended to prohibit the use of Federal money to subsidize abortions in cases of statutory rape. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the rape of a child too young to give consent.”
The House agreed to this resolution by a vote of 243-177. Voting “yea” were 231 Republicans and 12 Democrats. 177 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House proceeded to formal floor debate on legislation prohibiting federal funds from being used for abortions or any health care coverage that includes abortion services.