Today Rep. Gary Peters denounced the House Republicans after they passed H.R. 358. In this debate, Republicans argued that their bill will prevent taxpayer dollars from being used for abortions once the health care law fully takes effect in 2014, however the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits taxpayer funded abortions, has been the law of the land since 1976. In fact, during the Health Care debate of 2010, this topic came up again and again, but the fact remains that taxpayer dollars are not used for abortions. The Republicans anti-choice bill actually goes several steps further - here's what it actually does:
* Endangers women's lives: H.R. 358 would allow hospitals or healthcare providers to deny abortions - even in emergency cases where the woman's life is in danger. Furthermore, they wouldn't even be required to refer women to other facilities that would do the procedure.
* Limits women's ability to make her own reproductive choices: H.R. 358 would effectively eliminate private insurance plans from providing abortion coverage in the new health care exchange which was created by the Affordable Care Act. This bill would prevent private plans that accept even one single subsidized customer from providing abortion coverage to any other customers of the same plan -- effectively eliminating private abortion coverage.
"Republicans talk about big government intrusion, but they just passed a bill which would allow hospitals to deny life saving care to women in emergencies," said Rep. Gary Peters. "This bill would also prevent women from using their own private dollars to make their own private reproductive choices. The Republican war on women is divisive and shows just how extreme the Republican Party is."
Overview of the Bill:
* The Bill Allows Hospitals to Refuse to Provide Certain Life-Saving, Emergency Care to Women. H.R. 358 allows hospitals to refuse to provide abortion care, or to refer the patient to a hospital that will, even when a woman's life is in critical danger. With regard to abortion care, it overrides the Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act (EMTALA), undermining this key provision of federal law that ensures all people access to emergency services, regardless of their ability to pay. EMTALA requires Medicare-participating hospitals that offer emergency services to provide stabilizing treatment for all patients who present an emergency medical condition. Such required treatment could include provision of emergency abortion care to a woman whose pregnancy imminently endangers her life. While the Affordable Care Act specifically preserved EMTALA's requirement that hospitals provide necessary emergency services, H.R. 358 allows hospitals to refuse to provide abortion care -- even for women in life-threatening situations. In nullifying EMTALA as it applies to abortion care, H.R. 358 places the preferences of hospitals before the lives of women.
* The Bill Restricts, for the First Time, How Millions of Women with Private Insurance Can Spend Their Own Private Dollars In Purchasing Health Insurance. This GOP bill takes unprecedented steps far beyond the Hyde Amendment. Beginning in 2014, the bill prohibits the millions of women and their families who are in the Health Exchanges and are receiving federal subsidies from purchasing any health plan that includes abortion coverage -- even if they are using their own private dollars to purchase the portion of coverage relating to abortions. This prohibition will affect most women in the Exchanges, since a large majority will be receiving subsidies. It is unlikely that insurers would then offer these policies to those women in the Exchanges not receiving subsidies, since they will be a minority.
* The Hyde Amendment Has Been In Effect for Decades and the Affordable Care Act Continues the Hyde Amendment Policy. For decades, the federal law has been that no federal funds can be used for abortions (except in cases of rape or incest, or when the life of the woman would be endangered.) There have been GAO audits, inspector general audits, and congressional hearings, and all have concluded that the law of the land is being obeyed. No federal funds are being used for abortions (other than for the three federal exceptions).
* Affordable Care Act Already Includes Provisions to Prohibit Any U.S. Taxpayer Dollars to Fund Abortions. This Republican bill is completely unnecessary. The Affordable Care Act includes extensive provisions, drafted by pro-life Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE), that relate to the new state Exchanges and abortion, including provisions to ensure that no federal subsidies on the Exchanges are used to pay for abortions. In addition, President Obama issued an Executive Order in March 2010 that reinforced that federal funding cannot be used for abortions (other than for the three federal exceptions) and ensured proper enforcement of this policy.