This is a quick repost to give folks a primer on what’s going on with H.R. 358. There’s still time to stop this bill in its tracks.
TPM’s Evan McMorris-Santoro writes:
A bit of backstory: currently, all hospitals in America that receive Medicare or Medicaid funding are bound by a 1986 law known as EMTALA to provide emergency care to all comers, regardless of their ability to pay or other factors. Hospitals do not have to provide free care to everyone that arrives at their doorstep under EMTALA — but they do have to stabilize them and provide them with emergency care without factoring in their ability to pay for it or not. If a hospital can’t provide the care a patient needs, it is required to transfer that patient to a hospital that can, and the receiving hospital is required to accept that patient. In the case of an anti-abortion hospital with a patient requiring an emergency abortion, ETMALA would require that hospital to perform it or transfer the patient to someone who can. (The nature of how that procedure works exactly is up in the air, with the ACLU calling on the federal government to state clearly that unwillingness to perform an abortion doesn’t qualify as inability under EMTALA. That argument is ongoing, and the government has yet to weigh in.) Pitts’ new bill would free hospitals from any abortion requirement under EMTALA, meaning that medical providers who aren’t willing to terminate pregnancies wouldn’t have to — nor would they have to facilitate a transfer. The hospital could literally do nothing at all, pro-choice critics of Pitts’ bill say. “This is really out there,” Donna Crane, policy director at NARAL Pro-Choice America told TPM. “I haven’t seen this before.” Crane said she’s been a pro-choice advocate “for a long time,” yet she’s never seen anti-abortion bill as brazenly attacking the health of the mother exemption as Pitts’ bill has. NARAL has fired up its lobbying machinery and intends to make the emergency abortion language a key part of its fight against the Pitts bill when it goes before subcommittee in the House next week.
You can call (202) 730-9001 to be connected to Planned Parenthood, who will redirect you to a Washington operator board so that you can tell your Representative to say no to H.R. 358 and focus on jobs creation instead. I recommend knowing your district/Congressperson’s name before calling.