It had been nearly a month since health care for 9 million kids expired. House Republicans have no urgency to fix it. They have, however, advanced two bills to ban abortion.
Republicans were so busy trying to ram through their nightmarish Obamacare repeal bill in September that they forgot to put a key funding bill on the agenda: the reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which covers some 9 million children.
Funding officially expired on Oct. 1. Nearly one month later, Republicans have shown no urgency to fix the problem, as some states prepare to freeze coverage and kids face the prospect of losing their pediatricians.
New funding is stalled in the House as Republicans attempt to bully Democrats into accepting cuts to Medicare to pay for it. Hillary Clinton, who was instrumental in creating CHIP, scolded the GOP for allowing the program to expire, saying, “Children are going to lose their health care. No one should want that.”
While funding for an essential health program remains stalled, however, House Republicans have decided there is another issue higher on their list of priorities: banning safe, legal abortion.
Two days after CHIP expired, the House passed a bill that would imprison any doctor performing an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, which accounts for about 1 percent of abortions and is most often used when the woman’s health is at risk or the fetus she is carrying is not viable.
The 20 week ban will likely die in the Senate. But Republicans decided even that bill was not extreme enough.
On Nov. 1, the House Judiciary Committee will take up a bill to ban abortion at six weeks. That is before many women even realize they are pregnant. North Dakota tried to enact a similar law two years ago, and it was ruled unconstitutional in federal court.
Such a ban would effectively criminalize all abortion, which is a constitutionally protected right.
The six-week ban was authored by Iowa Rep. Steve King, an overt white nationalist who is obsessed with racial conspiracy theories about replacement of whites.
“We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies,” he tweeted in March. He has repeatedly called for “increasing the birthrate” and has raged about the government giving “a rubber stamp” to a legal medical procedure.
King explained that his bill is intended to protect “voiceless innocents.” But he has done nothing about the 9 million innocent children whose health care is now in jeopardy because of his party’s failure.
King and his GOP colleagues would do well to consider legislation that would actually help the children — white and otherwise — who are already born and need health care now. Their twisted priorities threaten people everywhere with unnecessary suffering.