The controversy over "forcible rape" may be over, but now there's a new Republican-sponsored abortion bill in the House that pro-choice folks say may be worse: this time around, the new language would allow hospitals to let a pregnant woman die rather than perform the abortion that would save her life.
The bill, known currently as H.R. 358 or the "Protect Life Act," would amend the 2010 health care reform law that would modify the way Obamacare deals with abortion coverage. Much of its language is modeled on the so-called Stupak Amendment, an anti-abortion provision pro-life Democrats attempted to insert into the reform law during the health care debate last year. But critics say a new language inserted into the bill just this week would go far beyond Stupak, allowing hospitals that receive federal funds but are opposed to abortions to turn away women in need of emergency pregnancy termination to save their lives.
The sponsor of H.R. 358, Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) is a vocal member of the House's anti-abortion wing. A member of the bipartisan Pro-Life Caucus and a co-sponsor of H.R 3 -- the bill that added "forcible rape" to the lexicon this week -- Pitts is no stranger to the abortion debate. But pro-choice advocates say his new law goes farther than any other bill has in encroaching on the rights of women to obtain an abortion when their health is at stake. They say the bill is giant leap away from accepted law, and one they haven't heard many in the pro-life community openly discuss before.
Pitts' response to the complaints from pro-choice groups? Nothing to see here.
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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.
I love when the movement calling itself "pro-life" - the use of that word without quotes being the most successful propaganda campaign of our time - proposes something that very clearly contributes to death. I'm not being sarcastic: I love it.
We know these woman-haters don't give a crap about actual living babies and children. But some of us also know they don't give a crap about fetuses either. Their movement is all about hating women: hating feminism, hating modern life, hating western women's ability to control their own lives, to have sex without consequence, formerly only the province of men. And every so often, they show their hand. As James said when he sent me this story (from AMERICAblog via HuffPost Hill): "Because having both mother and fetus die is so much better than the fetus alone." I'll leave you to tease out the layers of irony for yourself.