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House passes abortion backup bill

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Members of the U.S. House today voted 242-179 to pass a measure, H.R. 7, that would make permanent a ban on federal funding of abortions.

The bill would affect funding of abortions both through government health plans and through the private plans sold through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) public exchange system.

See also: States restrict plans from abortion coverage.

The prohibition on federal funding for abortion services was first enacted in 1976 and has been renewed every year since then.

The Obama administration said President Obama will veto H.R. 7 if it reaches him because he believes it interferes with private health coverage purchasing decisions.

The House voted on H.R. 7 rather than on H.R. 36, a bill that would have banned abortion after 20 weeks. The Obama administration said the president would also veto H.R. 36.

In the past, PPACA-related bills that passed in the Republican-controlled House rarely surfaced even in committee hearings in the Senate. Now that the Republicans control the Senate, bills like H.R. 7 may be somewhat more likely to reach the Senate floor. Republican backers of a bill will normally need help from several independents and Democrats to get the bill to come up on the floor.

Billy House of Bloomberg is reporting that discussions about the legislation were so intense that staff members were told to leave so lawmakers could talk privately. She says Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, co-chairman of a House caucus of centrists, told her that the age limit for the H.R. 36 incest exemption was “unreasonable.”

House quotes Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona, an H.R. 36 sponsor, as saying that House leaders’ decision to pull his bill was a good thing and noting that some Republican members want no exemption from the abortion ban.

See also: GAO: Few exchange plans follow PPACA abortion premium rules.