Despite tens of thousands protesting the failures of the economic policies of the last decade, and despite a Republican party that campaigned in November on a “where are the jobs” platform, this week House Republicans will take up HR 358. The deceptively-titled “Protect Life Act” will allow hospitals that receive federal funds to turn away a woman seeking an abortion in all circumstances, even if the procedure is necessary to save her life.
Under current law, any hospital receiving Medicare or Medicaid funds is legally required to provide emergency care to any patient in need, regardless of his or her financial situation. If that hospital can’t provide that service, including a life-saving abortion, it has to transfer the patient to a hospital that can.
But under the bill sponsored by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa), hospitals that don’t want to provide abortions could refuse to do so, even for a pregnant woman with a life-threatening complication that would require termination.
It’s a move that Catholic hospitals have been pushing for years. There are currently more than 600 Catholic hospitals governed by the Catholic Health Association, a group regulated by bishops and prohibited through that association from performing abortions.
And even though the Hyde Amendment currently bans taxpayer dollars from going toward abortion care, the Pitts bill prohibits federal funds from going to health care plans that cover any abortion services. The practical implication will be that insurance companies will just stop covering abortions, meaning women will once again be discriminated against in the delivery and coverage of health care services.
Opponents have rightly named the bill the “Let Women Die” act and the White House has promised a veto. While that may offer women some small comfort, it’s about time to remind Congress it’s job should first and foremost passing policy to stimulate the economy, not intrude in the medical care of women.
Photo from infowidget via flickr.