House of Representatives to America: Yup, Let Women Die!

The U.S. House of Representatives voted Thursday to pass HR 358, otherwise known as the “Protect Life Act”—or, a bit more aptly, the “Let Women Die” Bill. The measure, first conceived in February by one Joe Pitts (R), has had almost nine months to incubate in the fetid underbelly of the House and now emerges fully formed, ready and willing to let women die rather than allow hospitals to perform life-saving abortions. Every Republican and 11 Democrats voted in favor of the bill. Congress, you continue to amaze me with your eagerness to bury your collective heads in the sand and step back in time every day!

Mr. Pitts, conservative fan-favorite and unabashed douchebag co-sponsor of the equally popular “forcible rape” bill, decided that a great use of time, energy, and tax-payer dollars would be to create a half-redundant measure that would whittle even further away at reproductive rights. The Affordable Care Act already prohibited federal funds from covering abortions—and we love redundant abortion laws in this country! See: UN. However, the “Protect Life Act” would also prohibit any insurance provider that receives federal funding from offering abortion access, effectively equating to a ban on abortion through all private insurers. (And with that, how long until the promise of fully covered birth control is no more?)

Terrible, but only the tip of the iceberg when it came to the other provision of the bill.

As I wrote back in February:

Currently, all hospitals that receive Medicare or Medicaid funding are bound by the 1986 EMTALA law to provide emergency care to anyone who seeks their services, regardless of insurance status. This doesn’t mean the hospital is required to treat that person for days on end, but they are required to, at the very least, stabilize them—and if they can’t provide the care the patient needs, to transfer them to a hospital that can. If an anti-abortion hospital was to receive a woman who required an emergency abortion, under law they would be required to perform the abortion themselves, or transfer her to a hospital that would. The “Protect Life Act” would free hospitals from this obligation, giving them clearance to do nothing at all, even if the woman’s life was at risk.

The inevitable (preventable!) result? Many, many more deaths like these.

As Nancy Pelosi, former Speaker of the House said: “Under this bill, when the Republicans vote for this bill today, they will be voting to say that women can die on the floor of health care providers … it’s just appalling. I can’t even describe to you the logic of what they are doing today.”

Obama had already promised to veto the measure should it pass the House, so this basically amounts to pointless political aggrandizement as the shit-storm of the economy continues to rage. See: Occupy Wall Street.

As Rep. Ted Deutch (FL, D) said: “We could help jobless workers feed their families today, instead this bill grants hospitals the right to deny abortions even in life and death cases. We could cut taxes for small businesses today, instead this bill forbids Americans from using their own dollars to buy private insurance plans that include abortion coverage.”

What we are dealing with then, is not only a waste of time and money, but a grim, frightening taste of conservative agenda and denial. One in three women will get abortions in their lifetime. Most are women who are already married and have children. Every public dollar spent on family planning services will save three dollars in Medicaid costs. We know this, and yet we continue to use policy to barter with women’s lives.


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Michelle Koufopoulos is a writer, editor, book lover and tea enthusiast. She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College and spent a year studying at Oxford University, being indoctrinated into British cult more


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