WASHINGTON, D.C., May 4, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – According to Rep. Jackie Speier of California, ending taxpayer funding for abortion would amount to an imposition of “religious belief.”

Speier made the remarks during procedural debate on H.R. 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which is expected to receive a final vote Wednesday.

Speier criticized Republicans for advocating small government fiscally but “big government when it comes to regulating your bedroom.”

“This is about whether we should use the tax code as a moral club to impose the religious beliefs of some members of Congress on the American people,” said Speier, minutes before the measure was cleared for general debate in a 243-177 vote.

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska pointed out, however, that the large majority of Americans strongly oppose taxpayer funding for abortion.

“Certainly we can all agree that the U.S. government should not take tax dollars from hardworking Americans to fund abortion,” he said. “No matter how difficult the circumstances, I believe we can and must do better as a society, and as a minimum, tax dollars should not be involved.”

H.R. 3 would make permanent the annual Health and Human Services appropriations rider known as the Hyde amendment, which prohibits public funds from paying for abortions except in cases of rape and incest.

Top pro-abort House leaders, including Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter of New York, also complained that the House Judiciary Committee report’s interpretation of the rape exception was too stringent and would force women to undergo an IRS “rape audit” in order to receive coverage for the abortion procedure - a claim GOP supporters on the floor called “simply not true.” Pro-life sources on Capitol Hill noted that the rape exception already in place for Medicaid and other federal programs does not require such audits.

Critics also argued that the measure would amount to a tax hike, a claim that has been rebutted by both the Joint Committee on Taxation and the anti-tax lobby group Americans for Tax Reform.

GOP lawmakers this afternoon argued that the bill, which already has more than half the House signed on as co-sponsors, simply applies the spirit of the Hyde amendment evenly to the federal government.

“Abortion is not a business the government should not be involved in,” said Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN).

Roe, an OB/GYN, also pointed out that it was science - and not just religion - that was the backbone of H.R. 3.

“I’ve seen human development occur from the earliest stages of a small fetus all the way through birth,” said Roe. “We must make our laws consistent with our science and restore full legal protections to all waiting to be born.”