House GOP introduces new legislation to deny women medical care
The House is scheduled to vote this week on a new bill that would allow federally-funded hospitals that oppose abortions to refuse to perform the procedure, even in cases where a woman would die without it.
Under current law, every hospital that receives Medicare or Medicaid money is legally required to provide emergency care to any patient in need, regardless of his or her financial situation. If a hospital is unable to provide what the patient needs — including a life-saving abortion — it has to transfer the patient to a hospital that can.
Under H.R. 358, dubbed the ‘Protect Life Act’ and sponsored by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), hospitals that don’t want to provide abortions could refuse to do so, even for a pregnant woman with a life-threatening complication that requires a doctor terminate her pregnancy. This provision would apply to the more than 600 Catholic hospitals governed by the Catholic Health Association, which are regulated by bishops and prohibited from performing abortions.
The bill also prohibits federal funds from going to health care plans that cover any abortion services, which might prompt insurers to stop covering abortions. That outcome would disproportionately impact poor women who can’t afford to pay for abortions out of pocket.