Yesterday, the House passed the Protect Life Act, which would ban women from using federal money to purchase health care plans that cover abortions. It would also allow hospital and health care providers to refuse to provide abortions for women “if it has objections on grounds of conscience.” No matter the circumstances. Even if an abortion could save the life of the mother, the hospital can refuse. This stipulation has earned the bill the attention-grabbing nickname of “Let Her Die.”
The scariest part of this whole thing though may be how easy this bill passed in the House. Two-hundred and fifty-one Representatives voted for the bill sponsored by Representative Joe Pitts a Republican from Pennsylvania and supported by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Republican from Virginia. Only 172 votes against.
While there were some reports saying Republicans unanimously voted for the bill, two Republicans (Judy Biggert of Illinois and New York Representative Richard Hanna) actually voted against it. However, fifteen Democrats crossed the line in support of the bill.
Abortion rights advocates say this bill is unnecessary since existing laws already bar any taxpayer money from paying for abortions. During the health care debate, President Barack Obama signed an executive order, stating “no federal funds could be used in the new health care exchanges created in the law.”
But Planned Parenthood points out the new restriction in this bill that makes it much different than any existing law. Currently, hospitals that receive federal funds but don't have facilities to treat women who may need emergency abortion services are directed to transfer those patients to a another health care facility that can treat them. The Protect Life Act removes that requirement, putting women in a dangerous predicament.
Last year, Rep. Jackie Speier, a Democrat from California says she suffered a miscarriage and required a procedure to end her pregnancy. She accused Republicans of being "absolutely misogynist" for bringing up the bill saying if she would have had to travel to another hospital for the procedure she might have died.
Not every woman agrees that this bill is misogynistic though. North Carolina Republican Virginia Foxx is pro-life and says that “no one has fought more for the rights of women” than she has. “Fifty percent of the unborn babies that are being aborted are females,” she said. “So the misogyny comes from those that promote the killing of unborn babies. That's where the misogyny comes in.”
Though Obama has said he would veto the bill if it got that far, there is the question of what this will mean for the future of reproductive rights. Especially with the upcoming Presidential election. What do you think?
Photo by Leo in Canberra