Rep. Barbara Lee (Photo: Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
In keeping with its penchant for passing bills that have no chance in the Senate and would be vetoed if they ever reached President Obama’s desk, the Republican-led House last week passed the Protect Life Act, which would amend the Affordable Care Act to prohibit federal funds from being used by any health care plan that covers abortion services. It also would prohibit funds being withheld from health care providers that are opposed to offering abortions.
Before the Thursday evening vote, several Democrats took to the House floor to condemn their Republican colleagues for “waging a war on women” instead of focusing on jobs. They found the bill particularly egregious because President Obama has already signed an executive order barring insurers participating in the health care exchanges from using federal funds for abortion services.
“Instead of focusing on ways to find jobs for Americans, the Republicans are focusing on eliminating family planning programs, undercutting women’s right to choose and returning our country, unfortunately, to the days of back-alley abortions, which I remember well,” said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-California).
Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) was even more graphic, charging that if the bill passed, “women can die on the floor and health care providers do not have to intervene.”
Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wisconsin) argued that the bill paves the way for states to go beyond the provision of abortion services to consider treatments for sexually transmitted infections, birth control and screening services and counseling.
GOP lawmakers, who delivered equally impassioned remarks, know that the bill will not go any further than the House, but wanted to honor a promise included in the “Pledge to America” agenda that they unveiled before the 2010 midterm elections. In addition, during his weekly news conference, House Speaker John Boehner defended the action, and cited the three trade bills that also were up for votes as evidence that his party is focused on jobs.
“We’ve done four or five solid job-creation bills this week and this bill was part of our Pledge to America. We are keeping our word to the American people and we are going to do it,” he said before the vote.