Another day, another bad vote from Congressman Zinke, who today voted with House Republicans to restrict abortion rights for women serving in the military [1. There were 26,000 rapes and sexual assaults in the military in 2012], women with low incomes, and women living in Washington, D.C. At the same time, he voted to increase taxes on small businesses “that choose private health plans that cover abortion care, with the goal of driving consumers away from these plans.” As NARAL Pro-Choice America points out, the purpose of this bill, which will be vetoed by President Obama if it passes the Senate, threatens access to abortion rights nationwide by making insurance coverage for abortion far more complex and costly for businesses who offer reproductive health benefits to employees.
At the same time, the bill represents a tax hike for the vast majority of American small businesses, as the Washington Post notes:
“…one aspect of the legislation that hasn’t received much attention is the fact that it would raise taxes on the vast majority of small businesses.
The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act would deny small businesses a tax credit they currently receive through what’s known as the SHOP exchange, a part of the Affordable Care Act, if they include abortion care in their health plans. Roughly 87 percent of private plans include abortion services as part of comprehensive coverage, meaning the bulk of small businesses would be hit with a tax hike if the bill were to become law.”
Congressman Zinke has certainly come a long way from the legislator who argued that government should not intrude into personal decisions on abortion. Today, he voted to use the government’s taxation power to punish small businesses and workers who don’t bend to the will of the extremist pro-life fringe.
As bad as this bill is, reporters in Montana should certainly ask Congressman Zinke why he co-sponsored an even worse piece of legislation dropped by House leadership today which would have outlawed abortions after 20 weeks. During the campaign, Zinke faced criticism from Republicans who claimed he supported abortion rights through twenty weeks so it would certainly be interesting to see if, under conservative pressure, he has completely abandoned his relatively moderate views on choice.
[UPDATED: to reflect that Zinke did co-sponsor the more restrictive Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act]