House engaged in heated debate over Protect Life anti-abortion bill

The debate presently underway on the floor of the House on House Bill 358 is about abortion but also about government overreach. Republicans who support Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Pitts’ bill say the Affordable Care Act passed last year would force taxpayers to fund abortions and pro-life health workers to aid women who have had abortions or want abortions. Democrats say Republican lawmakers are forcing their views on women making personal decisions about their health and that the bill would make it very difficult for women, particularly poor women, to find even private insurance plans that provide coverage for abortion.

As The Hill put it:

[HR 358, the Protect Life Act,] would amend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) so that federal funds would be prohibited from being used to cover any part of the costs of any health [insurance] plan that includes coverage for abortion services.

That’s a significant change from current law, which prohibits federal funding for abortions but otherwise allows federal funds to cover costs of healthcare plans that are unrelated to abortions.

Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette, head of the House pro-Choice Caucus, has vehemently opposed Pitts’ bill, as she has other of the anti-abortion bills proposed by Republicans this year. She tweeted to followers an hour ago, describing the bill and the vote as Republicans pushing an “extreme social agenda” that distracts from job creation. Like other opponents of the bill, DeGette has pointed out that federal law presently forbids tax money from paying for abortions. Going further than that by banning federal money from paying for shared costs of comprehensive reproductive coverage, would force many more women to pay out of pocket for abortion, even if they’re already paying for insurance.

President Obama has already said he’d veto the bill if it were to pass. The bill will be strongly opposed in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in her weekly press conference searched for words to describe the bill, which she adamantly opposes.

“I want to get back to what was asked about the issue on the floor today—that Mr. Hoyer addressed. He made a point, and I want to emphasize it. Under this bill—when the Republicans vote for this bill today, they will be voting to say that women can die on the floor and health care providers do not have to intervene if this bill is passed. It’s just appalling. It falls right into their—it’s a health issue. This is a health issue. And it falls right in there with a lot of other initiatives that they had coming up on the floor about clean air, clean water, mercury, you name it. America’s families deserve better than this. And, again, today is another example of a wasted opportunity instead of taking up even an aspect of the President’s jobs bill that could create jobs. I can’t even describe to you the logic of what it is that they are doing. I just know that you’ll see a large number of women on the floor today fighting for women’s health issues as well as to point out how savage this is about withholding care for a woman because of this legislation.”

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