Protect Life Act impedes women’s health
Published: Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, February 16, 2011 18:02
Representative Joseph Pitts (R-PA) recently proposed H.R. 358, also known as the "Protect Life Act." According to The Library of Congress Bill Text, the Protect Life Act will be "modifying special rules relating to coverage of abortion services under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to conform to long standing federal policy." The federal government funds will not pay for the abortion of a fetus unless the pregnancy is a result of "forcible rape, or if a minor, an act of incest," even when the woman may die as a result of giving birth or continue the pregnancy to term to "physical disorder, physical injury or physical illness."
The Protect Life Act would essentially allow a woman to be turned away from a hospital care even when her own health is in danger, if that care meant she would need an abortion. The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) states that if a hospital receives federal funds, as many do, it must provide emergency treatment or provide an examination and ensure that the patient is stable. If it is not equipped to do so, it must transfer the patient to a hospital that would be able to, without considering insurance coverage or ability to pay. The Protect Life Act would make the EMTALA void by stating that a doctor would be able to deny the services necessary to the woman or to transfer her to another hospital that would. The act would also make it very difficult for the woman to receive insurance coverage for the procedure.
I understand Representative Pitts' proposal to some degree; the doctor should be able to act in accordance with her own beliefs about abortion. The law should not force her to perform an operation she believes to be immoral. The act should also not be using federal funds created by taxpayers when some of those taxpayers may be pro-life. However, this act is being shortsighted in that those supporting the bill are not considering the repercussions of the woman in danger. If a woman's life is at risk and an abortion is necessary, she may not have the time, or personal means to be able to receive the care she needs at another institution or to raise enough money to do so. This harms the general public rather than protecting it. The immediate need to save a human life should be placed above individual politics.
We must consider the health of the mother before we go on to save a child that may cause the woman great harm. We must also respect a woman's right to choose whether she wishes to continue a pregnancy if the child is known to be suffering from an abnormality in development that would cause the child harm and ultimately death during delivery, as was the case of mother-to-be Dana Weinstein. Weinstein had to pay out-of-pocket to receive an abortion across the country because her state would not perform the procedure; for over a year, she struggled with her insurance company for coverage of the operation.
It is already very difficult for women to receive the health care and insurance coverage needed to ensure their wellbeing. There is no sense in allowing the Protect Life Act to make the struggle ever harder.