This was a vote on a motion to recommit that would have prohibited the federal government from gaining access to the private medical records of victims of rape and incest. A motion to recommit with instructions is the minority's opportunity to torpedo or significantly change a bill before a final up-or-down vote on the measure. This motion to recommit was offered to legislation prohibiting federal funds from being used for any health care coverage that includes abortion services.
The Democrats offered this motion to recommit because the underlying bill opened the door to possible audits of women who have been raped. Since the bill banned the use of federal tax credits or deductions to pay for abortions, rape victims who had elected to have abortions and had received federal tax credits or deductions could have been required to provide proof that they had been raped. Many Democrats worried that in order to prove they had been raped, victims could be forced to grant the IRS access to their private medical records.
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) urged support for this motion to recommit: “Americans believe in privacy. Justice Brandeis once said in a court opinion, `Every American has the right to be left alone.' This is something we can all agree on. My motion would simply prohibit Federal agents from accessing a woman's health or other medical records because she was a victim of rape or incest. Now, that's pretty simple. If you're a victim of rape or incest, no Federal agency or agent will be able to access your medical records in order to prove that you, in fact, were raped or were a victim of incest….We should be treating these victims like victims and not like criminals. Medical privacy is a longstanding and protected right for every American. Why should the right be forfeited because you are a victim of rape or incest?”
Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) opposed the motion to recommit: “ I rise in opposition to this motion to recommit. The amendment supposes that the bill does something that it doesn't do. Nothing in this bill allows the IRS any greater access to health information than they have ever had…. This is simply an amendment looking for a problem that isn't there….I would simply say that before the sun sets today in America, 4,000 unborn children will die of abortion on demand, and in every case a nameless little baby will die a tragic and lonely death, a mother will never be quite the same, and all the gifts that child might have brought to humanity will be lost forever. I would like to tell you that this bill does something to prevent that same thing from happening tomorrow, but it doesn't….this bill simply says that taxpayers in the future will no longer have to pay for or worry about their taxpayer dollars being used for that purpose.”
The House rejected this motion to recommit by a vote of 192-235. All 191 Democrats present and 1 Republican voted “yea.” 235 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected a motion to recommit that would have prohibited the federal government from gaining access to the private medical records of victims of rape and incest.