Sisterhood Blog

'Protect Life Act' Continues the War on Women

By Sarah Seltzer

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While the economy stagnates and many additional issues ought to be at the top of their agenda, House Republicans are still fixated on policing the uteruses of America.

The “War on Women,” the name given to an onslaught of state and federal laws that have restricted abortion, birth control and women’s health care in an unprecedented way, has some particularly heartless elements.

One of its most brutal measures, the bill known as HR 358, or the “Protect Life Act,” passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 251 to 172 despite impassioned speeches from many congresswomen. Among advocates for women, it has been renamed the “Let Women Die Act.” Here is why, according to the website Jezebel, the name has stuck:

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.

So no insurance that covers abortions? Check. Allowing women to die rather than provide an abortion if it might save her life? Check. And protecting those who would let women die from losing their funding? Check.

President Obama, finally showing some bottom-line backbone on women’s issues, has vowed to veto the bill if it comes to his desk. But that won’t be the end of it.

Coming down the pike is a massive, intrusive congressional investigation of Planned Parenthood.

As for the (ahem!) male sponsors of such bills, “these guys are laser-focused” on “other” issues though they constantly claim to be focused on jobs and the economy, said MSNBC commentator Rachel Maddow recently. She called on the “fourth estate,” her colleagues in the media, to not “take on faith” so many politicians’ claims that they care about jobs and instead, to actually look at what they’re doing with their time: focusing on abortion, abortion, abortion with contraception thrown in for good measure.

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The irony, of course, which has been pointed out many times already, is that economic security as well as the funding and promotion of family planning actually reduce the number of abortions.

To make sure the point is clear: the very lawmakers who are focused on “life” actually promote policies that will increase abortion and leave women’s health vulnerable.

As Jodi Jacobson’s headline at RH Reality Check succinctly says, this is a “Congress to Women: Drop Dead” moment.

Even with the president’s promise of a veto, we need to raise our voices too, and let our representatives know what we think of their priorities.


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