Not satisfied with simply punishing poor women through the Hyde Amendment, the House of Representatives voted Thursday to radically roll back women’s access to reproductive health care. H.R. 358 would ban abortion coverage for millions of women across the country and allow health care providers, including hospitals, to refuse a woman emergency abortion services, even if she would die without it.
The “Protect Life Act” bans insurance plans in government run exchanges created by the new federal healthcare law from providing abortion coverage, if a single person receiving premium assistance enrolls. Because a great majority of individuals on the exchanges will receive subsidies, the bill would essentially ban abortion coverage on the exchanges for everyone, including those paying for coverage entirely with their own private dollars. It’s an excessive intrusion into the health care coverage for women and an attempt to force insurance companies to stop providing abortion coverage at any cost.
The bill was authored by Rep. Joe Pitts, (R-PA), better known for his work with former Rep. Bart Stupak in pushing through an amendment tightening the already strict restrictions on abortion coverage in the proposed government-run insurance plan.
The final vote was 251-172 with 14 Democrats breaking ranks and voting with Republicans, ensuring passage of the bill. Notably, Reps. Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul both abstained from the vote.
Despite the 14 Democrats voting against basic health care rights for women, not all in the party were willing to let the bill pass without a fight. “When the Republicans vote for this bill today they will be voting to say women can die on the floor and health care providers don’t have to intervene,” said Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.
The bill is unlikely to be considered by the Senate and even if it did, and passed, it faces a veto threat from President Obama, which is a good reminder of just what is at stake in the November 2012 elections.
Photo from infowidget via flickr.