The effort to criminalize birth control and make legal abortion impossible to access continues. Over 1,000 bills introduced in 49 states aim to achieve these goals. On the national level, H.R. 358 (aka the “Let Women Die” Bill) and its bizarre provision allowing hospitals to refuse to give a life-saving emergency abortion—and refuse to transfer the patient to a hospital that will—passed in the House by a vote of 251 to 172.
There were 15 Democrats who voted yes on the bill; all were male.
Groups like Family Research Council and the American Family Association, as well as conservative bloggers and politicos like Towhnall.com’s Katie Pavlich, have been hard at work misrepresenting the stance of opponents as well as the content of the bill itself. Conservatives are painting H.R. 358 as a bill that simply “stops abortion funding in Obamacare.” (and here.)
From the Family Research Council:
Despite misleading comments by abortion proponents, the Protect Life Act simply removes abortion funding and funding for health plans that include abortion. It ensures that Americans who want health care insurance with abortion coverage or supplemental abortion coverage can purchase it, but not with federal dollars. This was the long standing policy of the Hyde amendment until Obamacare bypassed this 30 year-old provision by directly spending money on new programs without any abortion funding restriction and creating tax subsidies for plans with abortion. The Protect Life Act restores this principle. (frc.org)
But here’s what the FRC doesn’t want you to know:
Under the guise of claiming to protect medical workers, H.R. 358 actually overturns decades of precedent that guarantees people’s access to lifesaving emergency care, including abortion care.
Since 1986, hospitals are prohibited from refusing to provide care to a patient in a life-threatening emergency situation. Current federal law requires hospitals to at least stabilize the patient, offering an essential protection for patients. But under H.R. 358, this critical protection would no longer apply to a woman who needed an abortion to save her life. (plannedparenthood.org)
Conservative religious groups and bloggers lie through their teeth and take their readers for fools. Anti-abortion zealots count on an audience that doesn’t dare reach outside their comfort zone and catch them in a lie. Not only does this bill ensure that untold numbers of women will be denied lifesaving treatments, but it will reduce access to abortion care for millions with its main provisions:
Today, the majority of private health insurance plans include coverage of abortion care. Under H.R. 358, millions of women would be prevented from using their own money to purchase comprehensive health insurance coverage. This is particularly true for women who work for small businesses or women who are self-employed and will get their health insurance through the new exchanges. (plannedparenthood.org)
And the bill does this:
Under current law (through the 2004 Weldon amendment), hospitals, health care facilities, and insurance plans can refuse to provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions. The Weldon amendment has no protections for patients to ensure they have access to care and information in a timely manner. H.R. 358 codifies this unfair and discriminatory provision.
Worse than even Weldon, H.R. 358 allows health care entities to refuse to “participate in” abortion care. This could mean that a hospital employee with no medical training or role in a patient’s treatment decisions could refuse to process bills, handle medical records, or even set up an examination room.
H.R. 358 allows states to enact sweeping refusal laws that would allow health plans to refuse to cover women’s preventive services, including birth control, without cost-sharing— undoing a new protection that 66 percent of Americans support. (plannedparenthood.org)
Support Planned Parenthood and the battle against the criminalization of reproductive choice by sharing this story with someone, volunteering as an escort at a local clinic, asking your state’s Senators to vote against H.R. 358, or making a financial donation to Planned Parenthood. You can also show up at an anti-choice gathering with a pro-choice sign and some friends, you can host a showing of the eye-opening documentary “12th and Delaware” at your university or home, or find a creative way to raise awareness about H.R. 358 and the war on reproductive choice.