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WASHINGTON, D.C., February 10, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The battle to permanently stop federal dollars from paying for elective abortion has begun in earnest on Capitol Hill, with new pro-life legislation that would codify existing pro-life protections like the Hyde Amendment and other riders, which must be renewed annually.

The “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” (HR 3) was the subject of a hearing by the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution on Tuesday afternoon.

The legislation, sponsored by the co-chairs of the bipartisan Pro-Life Caucus, Reps. Dan Lipinksi (D-Ill.) and Chris Smith (R-N.J.), would put in place a broad government ban on abortion funding.

“Today’s hearing early in the session puts the focus on important legislation to protect women and children from the horrors of abortion,” Smith said on Tuesday.

A gaggle of U.S. Senators led by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), however, blasted Smith and Lipinksi’s efforts, and accused them of risking “the health and the lives of women.”

“Your agenda on women’s health is extreme. It breaks faith with a decades-long bipartisan compromise,” Boxer said at a Tuesday press conference, with Sens. Patty Murray (Wash.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Al Franken (Minn.) and Frank Lautenberg (N.J.).

The bill would prohibit any individual or corporation from obtaining federal tax benefits or tax credits for health coverage that could indirectly be used to underwrite abortion-related expenses. Additionally, the measure bans federal facilities and employees from including abortion in health care services. Federal funds are also barred from going to health benefits plans that include abortion coverage.

Smith explained that the measure also would protect conscience rights of health care workers and institutions “by empowering the courts with the authority to prevent and redress actual or threatened violations of conscience.”

The bill contains exceptions in cases of rape, incest (for minors), and a physical threat to the life of the mother. The bill previously had language that stated “forcible rape” as an exception, but that language was deemed confusing, and dropped in favor of the original Hyde language.

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