A pro-life bill was passed by the House on Thursday, reigniting the controversial health care debate that swept the country last year.
The “Protect Life Act” is meant to prohibit any federal money from going toward abortions. It prohibits women from using the health care reform law’s tax subsidies to buy insurance plans that cover abortions. It also permits hospitals and doctors to refuse to provide abortions as a conscience objector.
Furthermore, the bill makes it clear that the federal government cannot favor health care providers who offer abortion coverage over those who don’t by giving them more federal funds under the health law.
The bill passed in the House 251 to 172. It was introduced by Pennsylvania Republican Joe Pitts and only two Republicans voted against it. However, it has a slim chance of being brought to the Senate floor for a vote; even if it was to pass the Senate, it is likely that President Obama would veto it.
Pitts told Fox News that the House Republicans are trying to close loopholes in the health care act that could lead to unconstitutionally supporting abortion with federal funding.
The Democrats are calling foul, saying that Republicans should focus on jobs creation which is the most important issue facing Americans.
"Instead of focusing on jobs, Republicans are continuing to wage their war on women," California Democrat Barbara Lee said on the House floor, according to CNN.
Despite the low odds that this bill will become law, both Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor told the House Republicans that they were upholding the “Pledge to America” they made last year.
“We’re keeping our word to the American people,” Boehner said, according to Politico.
The political left opposes the bill because they say it would allow hospitals to turn away women for emergency care if they needed an abortion. Democratic Representative Jan Schakowsky told The Hill that this bill was “extreme” and “mean-spirited.”
“I was pregnant, I was miscarrying and I was bleeding,” said Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), who earlier this year spoke openly of her emergency late-term abortion, according to Politico. “If I had to go from one emergency room to the next, who knows if I would be here today?”
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi dubbed the “savage” bill “Let Women Die Act.” She argued, according to CNN, that with the passage of this bill “women can die on the floor and health care providers do not have to intervene.”
Republicans denounce Pelosi’s claim, saying that the current Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act mandates that any health care provider that participates in Medicare has an obligation to treat anyone who comes to them in need of emergency care.
“That’s absurd; no one is going to let someone die on the floor,” Ann Scheidler, vice president of Pro-Life Action League, told The Christian Post in response to Pelosi’s remarks. “We are talking about the use of federal funds, not the prohibition of saving a life.”
Democrats have argued that this bill would make it harder for lower income women to get abortions. Scheidler says that’s a good thing.
“Abortion is never to the advantage of anyone. It kills a baby and can harm the mother. If it becomes more difficult to get an abortion because you can’t afford one, then good.”
President Obama, on the other hand, spoke publicly on Wednesday about his “strong” opposition to the bill because it “intrudes on women’s reproductive freedom and access to health care.”
According a Real Clear Politics poll, 50 percent of Americans oppose the democratic health care plan as a whole while only 38.6 percent favor it.