Get ready to have your blood pressure raised: The overwhelmingly rich old white guys who run things in this country are about to start debating what should go on between your legs again. After quiet summer of talking about how everything that Barack Obama has ever done is killing jobs, conservatives are gearing up to pimp yet another anti-choice bit of legislation. And it's a doozy.
HR 358, or the "Protect Life Act," was introduced into the House earlier this year, but Congress, what with all their Constitution reading and NPR funding stripping, didn't get around to debating the measure until just now.
The bill has been lovingly nicknamed the "Let Women Die" act, as it would allow hospitals that receive federal funds but are opposed to abortions turn a woman seeking an abortion away in all circumstances, even if an abortion would save her life. It also proposes to outlaw any federal funds from going to health plans that cover any abortion services. Finally, it would make it impossible to block federal funds from going to health organizations that don't support abortion rights, hence the hospitals' freedom to "Protect Life" by refusing to perform a procedure that might save a woman's life. HR 358 was penned Joe Pitts, a Pennsylvania Republican and a vocal member of the House's Pro-Life Caucus. For those of you keeping score at home, Joe Pitts does not have a uterus.
Back when it was introduced in February, a spokesperson for Pitts was asked about the "Embryos Before Hoes" aspects of the bill. His spokesperson told Talking Points Memo that the bill isn't newly killing women, its simply reinforces hospitals' already-existing rights to refuse to save them.
Since the 1970s, existing law affirmed the right to refuse involvement in abortion in all circumstances.
The Protect Life Act simply extends these provisions to the new law by inserting a provision that mirrors Hyde-Weldon. In other words, this bill is only preserving the same rights that medical professionals have had for decades.
If the bill does nothing new, then why do we need a new bill? Are redundant laws banning federal funds from being used for abortion to legislation as the Saw films are to the horror genre? (It's just the same movie over and over again! Why do they keep making them?) It's a mystery.
If the government is going to insist on telling women what to do, they should at least be considerate and start small rather than jumping right to putting our lives in danger. Suggestions: the You'd Look A Lot Prettier If You Smiled More Act, the Why Not Skip The Fried Chicken Tonight, Honey; You've Gained Weight Act, and the Laugh At All Of My Jokes Act.
The Washington Post reports that this headache inducing debate will likely be the first of many over the next few months. Up next on the agenda: Florida Republican Cliff Stearns (who also does not have a uterus) has requested an in-depth probe of the financial records of Planned Parenthood, just to make sure they're not trying to take taxpayer money and use it to fund abortions for poor people. Because if there's anyone who should be forced to carry pregnancies to term, it's women too poor to go anywhere but Planned Parenthood for abortions, and if there's anything that will save the American taxpayer money, it's making sure that as many babies as possible are born into poverty. This can only end well.
Votes on abortion funding earlier this year split almost exactly down party lines in both the House and the Senate, which means that the Republican-controlled House will probably pass this one, too. But don't worry; even if it does get past Democrat-controlled Senate, President Obama is a good liberal and he would never do anything nutty like order the killing of a US citizen or be secretly cozy with Wall Street or sign a bill into law that will kill women just because some crazy jerks on the right want him to, right?
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