Nation/World

Fed Health Plans Won’t Cover Abortion Senate Approves Restriction; Critic Calls It ‘Gratuitous Slap’

The Senate voted Tuesday to continue barring federal workers’ health plans from covering costs of most abortions, overriding objections from Democratic women that government employees were being denied benefits available to private-sector workers.

The restriction, proposed by Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, was approved 54 to 45 as part of a $25.2 billion appropriations bill for the Treasury Department, Postal Service and many other agencies for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1. It would prohibit “taxpayer subsidy of abortions” for federal workers except in cases of rape, incest and threat to the life of a woman, DeWine said.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., complained that it “singles out female federal employees and denies them a medical benefit enjoyed by all other working women.”

Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun, D-Ill., called it a “gratuitous slap” at women in government.

The restriction has been in effect since 1984 except for fiscal 1994 and 1995, according to DeWine. The House has not yet acted on its version of the bill but has previously approved the provision and it is considered likely to be enacted.

The spending bill, approved 99 to 0, also includes a ban on cost-of-living increases for members of Congress next year and provides increases of various amounts for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the U.S. Customs Service, the Internal Revenue Service, the Secret Service and the executive office of the president.

Spending for the Federal Election Commission, which has an enormous backlog of campaign finance cases, was increased by $835,000 to $29 million.

xxxx NW votes Here are Idaho and Washington votes. A “yes” vote was a vote to bar use of federal workers’ health insurance for abortions and a “no” vote was a vote to allow abortion coverage. Idaho: Larry Craig (R) Yes; Dirk Kempthorne (R) Yes. Washington: Slade Gorton (R) Yes; Patty Murray (D) No.



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