In an email sent to supporters today, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand blasted the GOP’s anti-abortion “Protect Life Act” as evidence of Republicans’ “heinous disregard for women’s rights.”
Members of the U.S. House of Representatives are scheduled to vote on the act today. It was sponsored by Republican Pennsylvania Congressman Joe Pitts.
“Today, they’re forcing a vote on the House floor that puts radical ideology first – and a woman’s health last,” Senator Gillibrand wrote.
The “Protect Life Act” would bar health care providers from using federal funding to pay for the portions of health insurance plans that cover abortions. Health insurance providers offering plans that cover abortions will also be required to offer identical plans that do not include abortion coverage. It also a subsection calling for “nondiscrimination on abortion” that would ban federal agencies or programs that receive federal funding from discriminating against healthcare entities that refuse to perform abortions, participate in abortion training or provide referrals to places offering abortions or training. The act defines “healthcare entities” as “an individual physician or other health care professional, a hospital, a provider-sponsored organization, a health maintenance organization, a health insurance plan, or any other kind of health care facility, organization, or plan.”
“The absurdly named “Protect Life Act” (HR 358) allows hospitals to refuse to perform an abortion, even when a woman’s life is in jeopardy,” wrote Senator Gillibrand.
Though the portion of the act limiting federal funding for abortion coverage makes an exception for abortions needed due to “an act of rape or incest” or in cases where health problems mean pregnancy may put a woman’s life in danger, the “nondiscrimination” portion of the bill does not require doctors or healthcare facilities to provide abortions when they may be needed to save a woman’s life.
Senator Gillibrand’s message to supporters characterized the act as part of an anti-woman agenda among “GOP extremists” in the House.”
“Republicans have voted seven times to restrict a woman’s right to choose. Their heinous disregard for women’s rights has gone way, way too far. … Ever since the GOP took control of the House of Representatives, they’ve been on an anti-woman crusade. First they tried redefining rape. Now they want to allow hospitals to refuse life-saving care,” Senator Gillibrand wrote.
Though the Republican-controlled House may vote for the “Protect Life Act,” it is highly unlikely to make it past the Democratic majority in the Senate or President Obama’s veto pen and become law.