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Public Statements

Protect Life Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas. Madam Speaker, let me be very clear. The only ``no'' that is being said is ``no'' to the vulnerable women who are traveling in emergency ambulances to the hospital, desiring emergency treatment, dying, and not being able to be treated, needing to correct a problem that has, in fact, damaged their health and not being able to be treated.

Not only is this bill unconstitutional, but the Affordable Care Act does not promote abortion. Frankly, Federal funds are not being utilized for abortion as it will complicate the insurance process for all women in America.

All you can hear is the siren going around and around and around--that woman lying on a gurney--and that hospital being able to say ``no'' and ``yes.'' The only ``no'' is that she will not live because this bill is passed.

I ask my colleagues to vote against this bill. Vote for life. Vote against this bill.

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Madam Speaker, I rise today in strong opposition to H.R. 358, The Protect Life Act. This bill will have a detrimental impact on women's health, and moreover, attacks a woman's constitutionally protected right to choose. It will restrict Access to health care services. It would effectively shut down the private insurance market for allowing women to get complete health care coverage. Once again instead of focusing on JOBS we are again focusing on issues that will not help to feed American families.

As a strong advocate for women's health, I cannot stand by and watch as those who do not support the rights of women to determine their health care options find different and often insidious ways to take away their ability to have full health care coverage.

We are asking women to give up their right to privacy. These decisions need to be between a woman and her doctor. She has the right to determine who, if anyone else she would like to inform of her health care choices. In addition to rendering it nearly impossible for women to get insurance coverage for abortion care in the new state health exchanges, H.R. 358 allows public hospitals to refuse to provide emergency abortion care, even in situations when the procedure is necessary to save a woman's life.

This has been a long and hard fight. Thirty-eight years ago, the American people learned of the Supreme Court's momentous ruling in Roe versus Wade--the case which established constitutional restrictions on the State's ability to regulate or restrict a woman's decision to have an abortion. In the year 1973, the Supreme Court asserted that the 14th amendment protects a woman's right to choose for herself whether to have an abortion.

Many women in 1973 must have viewed the Supreme Court's ruling in Roe versus Wade as an encouraging turning point in the way our courts recognize the rights of women under the Constitution. The Roe versus Wade decision at last offered a choice to many women who had been victims of rape or incest, but had been denied abortion as a legal option. Roe versus Wade offered a choice to many women whose lives would have been threatened by going through childbirth, but had been denied abortion as a legal option. And Roe versus Wade offered a choice to women who, for a variety of personal reasons, would prefer not to carry a pregnancy to term, but had earlier been denied abortion as a legal option.

Indeed, it is my hope that the Supreme Court will continue to protect women against any State erosion of a woman's individual rights. Let us not undermine the breakthrough made for women by the Supreme Court in 1973. Let us not jeopardize the right of a woman to choose whether she will bear children. Let us not place a woman's right to personal privacy at risk. Instead, let us reaffirm those rights and give consistent support not only to those who choose to have children, but also to those who do not.

Since Roe v. Wade, a woman's right to choose has been systematically eroded by anti-choice legislators. In fact, more than 450 anti-choice measures have been enacted in the states since 1995, essentially rolling back this fundamental right for many women. Women in 19 states could face sweeping bans on abortion if the Supreme Court reverses Roe and allows states to re-criminalize abortion, menacing doctors and their patients with the threat of criminal investigation, prosecution, and even imprisonment.

The argument has been over and over that tax payer dollars should not be used to fund abortions. This argument is an extreme overreach. The Affordable Care Act already includes a provision that prohibits any U.S. taxpayer dollars from funding abortions. As this is the case the purpose of this bill seems to only be to rattle people's cages by attacking women and failing to address the job crisis in this country. We should focus on creating jobs. This bill seems to be a red herring. Instead of focusing on jobs, the economy, rebuilding America, we are instead focusing on an issue that everyone knows is divisive.

Women would no longer be able to have full health care coverage without disclosing very personal information. They must predict in advance whether or not they are going to use a service that is legal in this country. It is the law, and the law should be upheld. Women would be required to buy separate coverage specifically for abortions. There is no such policy for any health procedure that a man may be required to undergo. This is an issue of privacy, this is an issue of fairness, and this is an issue of gender equality. A woman like a man has the right to make private, personal choices about her health. She should not be punished by not having access to adequate health care. This is about a constitutional right!

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