House Republicans Target Contraception In Last-Minute Spending Bill

House Republican Spending Bill Would Allow Employers To Opt Out Of Birth Control Coverage

WASHINGTON -- House Republicans included a so-called "conscience clause" in the government funding bill in a plan they approved early Sunday.

The House voted 231-192 on a bill that would delay much of the 2010 health care overhaul for a year. It would also repeal a tax on medical devices that helps finance the health care law.

The measure would allow employers and insurers to opt out of providing health care services that they find morally or religiously objectionable. The addition reignites the debate over a portion of the health care reform law that requires most insurers to cover women's preventative health care, including contraception. CNN reports that the provision would allow them to opt out of coverage for the next year.

A House Republican leadership aide confirmed to HuffPost that the provision was added into the one-year delay of Obamacare during a House Rules Committee meeting on Saturday evening.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens called the move "desperate, misguided, and extreme" in a statement. "The country wants Congress to focus on jobs and the economy, not on pushing an extreme agenda against birth control," said Laguens.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) didn't know Republicans had added the provision into the bill, even as the House was already debating the rule for bringing it up.

"They did?" Becerra asked, during a Saturday night interview with The Huffington Post. "What part of their social agenda will they not stick into a budget bill?"

Becerra called it "absurd" that an abortion-related provision found its way into the bill at the last minute. "We're less than three days from watching [Republicans] lead to a government shutdown. Now they want to reignite the war on women?" he asked. "It makes for theater, and that's what it is. If it weren't so serious, it would be hard not to laugh."

The one-year delay passed by the House early Sunday faces almost certain failure in the Senate, which has objected to Republicans' attempt to use the government funding bill to delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

"Once again House Republicans have found a way to mount an ideological attack on women's health as the clock ticks down on a crisis they created," Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said in a statement Saturday night. "This is part of the right-wing playbook that's going nowhere in the Senate. The truly unconscionable thing is that Republicans would try to rob women of access to health care while holding our economy hostage."

This post has been updated to reflect the House vote.

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