The GOP Continues to Wage War on Women with H. R. 358

Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

The GOP continues to wage its war on women’s rights. Last week, the House passed HR 358. HR 358, ironically named the “Protect Life Act,” could be the cause of women being left to die in hospital emergency rooms without treatment if the bill becomes a law—which is unlikely since President Obama has already released a statement in opposition to the bill.

Here’s a brief explanation of the bill from Human Rights Watch:

Bill Would Permit Hospitals to Let Women in Need of Care Die

(Washington, DC) – The United States House of Representatives approved a bill on October 13, 2011, that would put women’s lives at risk, Human Rights Watch said today. The bill, if it becomes law, would reverse longstanding federal policy requiring hospitals to provide life-saving care regardless of expense, Human Rights Watch said.

The Protect Life Act, HR 358, would amend the healthcare reform law to grant hospitals far-reaching powers to deny patients abortion care, without any exception for emergency situations. US law currently requires hospitals receiving federal funds to provide emergency care to anyone in need up to the point at which they can be stabilized or transferred, if the original hospital is incapable of providing the care they need.

“The misnamed Protect Life Act is about allowing women to die if they need an emergency abortion,” said Meghan Rhoad, women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “It is a vicious attack on women’s rights and on the most basic right to life.”

HR 358—aka the “Let Women Die Bill”–was sponsored by Representative Joe Pitts (R-PA) and supported by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA).

Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA) brought up an example from her own life when she spoke out against HR 358 on the floor of the House.  Speier said, “I was pregnant, I was miscarrying, I was bleeding. If I had to go from one hospital to the next trying to find one emergency room that would take me in, who knows if I would even be here today. What my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are trying to do is misogynist.”

Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority, said the bill was “especially mean-spirited, irresponsible, and misogynistic, and would result in some young women dying without treatment from bleeding from either hemorrhaging or a tubal pregnancy that has erupted.”

It has been reported that HR 358 would provide legal protection to hospitals that refused to perform emergency abortions—even when a woman’s life is at stake. It would free these hospitals from the legal obligation of stabilizing and transferring individuals. That puts HR 358 in conflict with the Emergency Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), which was passed in 1986. EMTALA requires hospital emergency rooms to stabilize and then transfer people if the hospitals don’t want to perform certain procedures on them. According to MS Magazine, the “‘conscience clause’ would also overturn the recent Health and Human Services Department decision that requires contraception be covered by insurance at no additional cost.”

From the website of Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois):

Extension of Remarks
Rep. Jan Schakowsky
October 13, 2011

Mr. Speaker,

I rise in opposition to HR 358, the Protect Life Act.

The American people want us to work together to create jobs to bolster the economy.  Instead, we are here, once again, to consider legislation that endangers and attacks the right of women and is far out of the mainstream of American priorities.

HR 358 is extreme legislation.  It is another attempt to unravel the health care law while at the same time expanding anti-choice laws that will harm women’s health. 

This legislation revives a debate that has already been settled – there is no federal funding for abortion in the health care reform law.  Legal experts have said it.  Independent fact check organizations have said it.  Yet, Republicans continue to insist that the possibility of funding remains.

Federal funds are already prohibited from being used for abortions under the Hyde Amendment – at the expense of poor women, federal employees, women in the District of Columbia and women in the military.  But this bill goes way beyond that law.

It would take away a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her reproductive health – even with her own money.

It could expand the existing conscience objection to avoid providing contraception.

And, it would allow public hospitals to deny emergency abortion care to women in life-threatening situations.

HR 358 undermines the guarantee of emergency care under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA).  EMTALA creates a legal safety net that guarantees that anyone in need of emergency health care, including those unable to pay for health care, cannot be denied such care at hospitals. 

HR 358 would strip EMTALA of its power to ensure that women receive abortion care in emergency situations at hospitals by making their right to health care secondary to the hospital’s ability to refuse to provide abortion care.

Abortion care is necessary in some circumstances to save a woman’s life.  During the hearing on H.R. 358 in the Energy and Commerce Committee, some witnesses wrongly claimed that this was not the case.

In response to those claims, Dr. Cassing Hammond, Director of Northwestern University’s Center for Family Planning and Contraception as well as its academic Section of Family Planning, wrote a letter to the Committee to set the record straight.  Dr. Hammond has twenty years of experience in obstetric and complex abortion care. 

In his letter, Dr. Hammond states:

“Most patients are healthy women having healthy babies, but I am frequently asked to provide abortions for women confronting severely troubled pregnancies or their own life endangering health issues. Physicians who provide health care to women cannot choose to ignore the more tragic consequences of human pregnancy—and neither should Congress.” 

Dr. Hammond then proceeds to give several examples from his own experience of women who required abortion care in life-saving circumstances.  The following examples illustrate just a few of those instances:

  • “One of my own obstetric patients carrying a desired pregnancy recently experienced rupture of the amniotic sac at 20 weeks gestation.  The patient had a complete placenta previa, a condition where the afterbirth covers the opening of the uterus.  Although the patient hoped the pregnancy might continue, she began contracting and suddenly hemorrhaged, losing nearly a liter of blood into her bed in a single gush.  Had we not quickly intervened to terminate the pregnancy, she would have bled to death, just as women do in countries with limited access to obstetric services.”
  • “My service often receives consults regarding patients with serious medical issues complicating pregnancy.  We recently had a 44-year-old patient whose pregnancy had been complicated by a variety of non-specific symptoms.  A CT scan obtained at 23 weeks gestation revealed that the patient had lung cancer that had metastasized to her brain, liver, and other organs.  Her family confronted the difficult choice of terminating a desired pregnancy or continuing the pregnancy knowing that the physiological burden of pregnancy and cancer might worsen her already poor prognosis.  The family chose to proceed with the pregnancy termination.”
  • “My service frequently sees patients with early pre-eclampsia, often referred to by the term ‘toxemia.’  Pre-eclampsia usually complicates later gestation, but occasionally complicates pregnancy as early as 18 to 20 weeks, well before the fetus is viable.  The only treatment for severe pre-eclampsia is delivery.  Otherwise, the condition will worsen, exposing the mother to kidney failure, liver failure, stroke and death.  One Christmas morning I had to leave my own family so that I could provide a pregnancy termination for a remarkably sick, pre-eclamptic teenager.”

These are women suffering from the most serious of health conditions.  If HR 358 were in place, they could be denied the emergency care they need.   

The attention Republicans are focusing on the private lives of women – what American families do with their own money – makes it clear that their real goal is to ban all abortions and end access to birth control and contraceptives.

Republicans don’t want government to protect the water we drink, the air we breathe, or the food we eat – but they do want to intrude in a women’s right to choose.

We are now at 280 days in this Congress without passing a jobs plan – yet the Republican majority has consistently managed to pass extreme and divisive legislation targeted at women’s health. 

The Administration strongly opposes HR 358, and this bill has no chance of becoming law. 

We are running out of legislative days left before the end of the year.  When is the Republican majority going to focus on jobs and the economy?

Now is the time to work on the issues that are most important to Americans – creating jobs and improving the economy – rather than restricting reproductive choice and access to family planning. 

This legislation is an extreme and mean-spirited way to roll back women’s health and rights.  It is too extreme for women, too extreme for America, and we must reject it.   

I have a parting thought for Rep. Pitts, Rep. Cantor, and all the members of the House who voted in favor of HR 358: I hope one day you will come to value the lives of women as much as you value the lives of the unborn.



H. R. 358

US: House Vote Puts Women at Risk (Human Rights Watch)

The Pitts Bill (H.R. 358): A Dangerous Bill that Threatens Women’s Health and Lives (National Women’s Law Center)

House GOP Proposes So-Called ‘Let Women Die’ Bill That Lets Hospitals Deny Life-Saving Care (ThinkProgress)

House Passes The ‘Let Women Die’ Bill (ThinkProgress)

US House Passes the “Let Her Die” Bill (MS Magazine)

This Again? House Votes to “Protect Life,” Kill Women (MS Magazine)

US: House Bill Would Permit Hospitals to Let Women in Need of Care, Die (Huffington Post)

New GOP Bill Would Allow Hospitals To Let Women Die Instead Of Having An Abortion (TPMDC)

H.R. 358 would deny emergency abortions, allow women to die (Examiner)

Previous Turley Blawg Posts

Rape Redefined and Brought to You by Members of the US House of Representatives

The Right’s War on Women

The Right’s War on Women Continues…at the State Level

Redefining When Life Begins: A Post about Personhood USA and Legislative Bills That Could Make the Use of Some Contraceptives Illegal

116 thoughts on “The GOP Continues to Wage War on Women with H. R. 358”

  1. After Confusing Himself, Cain Decides That Rape Victims Should Be Forced To Carry Pregnancies To Term
    By Tanya Somanader on Oct 18, 2011

    Newly emerged GOP presidential frontrunner Herman Cain does not do well under public scrutiny. He has “no idea” how his gimmicky 999 tax plan works in practice. He mixes up our nation’s founding documents. And his weak grasp of foreign policy even inspired his fellow GOP contender Newt Gingrich to worry that Cain is “not ready for prime time.”

    So it probably should be surprising that last week Cain actually managed to confuse himself — and everyone at Fox Business’s Stossel show — over a much more basic yes or no question: Should abortion be legal?

    At first, Cain offered a simple answer: “I’m pro-life from conception, yes.” But when host Stossel asked whether there are any cases in which abortion should be legal (such as rape or incest), Cain then declared, “I don’t think government should make that decision.” Recognizing the conflict, Stossel endeavored to clear up exactly where Cain stood on abortion — an attempt that led Cain to completely contradict himself by offering three different positions. He began with his anti-choice stance:

    CAIN: I support life from conception. No people shouldn’t be free to abort because if we don’t protect the sanctity of life from conception, we will also start to play God relative to life at the end of life.

    An understandably “confused” Stossel then asks Cain whether a rape victim should have the right to get an abortion. Cain then offers position 2:

    CAIN: That’s her choice. That’s not government choice. I support life from conception.

    STOSSEL: So abortion should be legal.

    CAIN: No abortion should not be legal.

    A now thoroughly perplexed Stossel asserts, “I’m not getting it, I’m not understanding it” and helps Cain understand the obvious flaw: “If it’s her choice, then that means it’s legal.” Cain replies with position 3:
    CAIN: No! I don’t believe a woman should have an abortion. Does that help to clear it up?

    STOSSEL: Even if she is raped.

    CAIN: Even if she is raped or she is the victim of incest because there are other options. We must protect the sanctity of life and I have always believed that. Real clear.

  2. Woosty’s.
    “I’m not sure who is the most effective ‘doctrinator’….the church, or the state?”
    Me too neither. But does it really matter who abuses you worse?
    I feel its this way. I’m grown, I’m smart. I pay my way, And I don’t have to have someone make my decisions for me because “I”m not equipped”

  3. My Congressman, Rep. Joe Walsh, is a Teapublican darling and he voted to let women die. Of course, he is also embroiled in a court action to recover past due child support from his ex wife for his children. I wonder if there is a connection???

  4. The fight needs to be fought more now than even a year ago. My daughter never lived in the Alice Paul dorm. When I visited the campus I wished that I could move in the dorm.

  5. My grandmother fought for my mother. My grandmother met Alice Paul as a student at Swarthmore and they maintained their acquaintanceship through letters. My grandmother called herself a dedicated suffragist and worked hard for passage of the 19th. She was even “bonked” on the head during a march but because she had stuffed the crown of her hat with tissue paper and feathers, she sustained only a slight bruise. Later, in the ’20’s, she became a store detective and then the first female to ever head up a retail detective agency. I used to love to sit and listen to her stories.

    My mother fought for me, I fought for my daughters, and they are fighting for their daughters.

    It’s amazing that the fight still has to be fought.

  6. Mine voted for it, of course. At least my old blue dog one was pro-choice. The one I have now is an idiot. My daughter debated him on stem cells outside the poling place when she was in high school.

  7. rafflaw; OTB. Occupy Turley Blog!
    I’ll make the signs 🙂

    the world will tremble…….

  8. Jo1, October 17, 2011 at 12:48 am

    …It is a woman’s site that shows Christian women practicing being submissive to the husband. It explains a lot about how these women are indoctrinated into the submissive (subhuman?) role. …
    indoctrinate (ɪnˈdɒktrɪˌneɪt)

    1. to teach (a person or group of people) systematically to accept doctrines, esp uncritically

    2. rare to impart learning to; instruct


    — n
    — n
    I’m not sure who is the most effective ‘doctrinator’….the church, or the state?

  9. The Republicans who voted against H. R. 358:

    Judy Biggert from the 13th Congressional District in Illinois and Richard Hanna from the 24th Congressional District of New York.

  10. Here are the names of Democrats in the House who voted for H. R. 358:

    House Passes H.R. 358, the “Let Women Die” Act of 2011
    by Jodi Jacobson

    Fifteen Democrats voted for what women’s groups are calling the “Let Women Die” Act. These include anti-choice Congressmen Jason Altmire (PA), Sanford Bishop (GA), Dan Boren (OK), Jerry Costello (IL), Mark Critz (PA), Henry Cuellar (TX), Joe Donnelly (IN), Tim Holden (PA), Dan Lipinski (IL), Jim Matheson (UT), Mike McIntyre (NC), Nick Rahall (WVA), Mike Ross (AR), Collin Petersen (MN), and Heath Shuler (D-NC).

  11. Elaine, You have to love the wiggle room church leaders leave themselves, LOL. Thanks for calling my attention to “Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.” I visited their site and in many respects they seem to be less extreme than some of the home-made sites I’ve seen. A couple of the sites I’ve visited that have a woman’s component have that site run by the wife of a deacon or church pastor. They can be quite extreme, even counselling women that comment to stay with abusive husbands and because divorce is adultery. I get the feeling that the power angle is strong on those sites.

    and as always, thanks for a thought provoking thread, all of the guest blogger’s do such a great job I tend to take that for granted and don’t thank them often enough. Thank you Elaine and all of the guest blogger’s

  12. Jo, I visited that site. There are a number of sites like that that I have seen and the are by women for women to help them ‘perfect’ themselves. That’s the word they use “perfect”. There’s an Anabaptist site (both the church and a woman’s site) from a little church here in MO that I have visited a couple of times and it’s interesting in an anthropological fashion. They have their sermons up and linked for D/L.

    The sermon explaining why women should follow John’s admonition to not speak doesn’t work which is a bummer because I wanted to hear that one but I did notice in the other sermons I listened to that the preacher (many preachers) all talk slowly, it’s not normal speech nor preaching style. I have my own suspicions why that is 🙂

    The woman that runs the frugal life and health site is happy that she has a friend that could fulfill her wishes for more comfortable ‘modest’ clothing. Covered head to toe. It may as well be Afghanistan fashion-wise. That’s where the fundies want to take us all; being silent and submissive, cloistered in the home counting pennies, covered head to toe and considering it a blessing when our Burkah’s fit comfortably. Crazy doesn’t do it justice.

  13. lotta,

    Hail to the Housewife
    Can Michele Bachmann be the leader of the free world and still obey her husband like a good evangelical?
    By Libby Copeland
    June 30, 2011

    In a speech at a mega-church in the Minneapolis area back in 2006, Michele Bachmann explained her decision to pursue tax law. It wasn’t her choice, exactly. God had already told her to go to law school; God had also told her to marry a fellow named Marcus Bachmann. Now Marcus told her “to go and get a post-doctorate degree in tax law.” This was not a particular desire of Michele’s (“Tax law? I hate taxes!”), but she was certain God was speaking through her husband.

    “Why should I go and do something like that?” she recalled thinking. “But the Lord says, ‘Be submissive wives; you are to be submissive to your husbands.'”

    For non-evangelical Christians, this sounds ludicrous: How can a woman who believes in submitting to her husband’s will aspire to be president of the United States? Is she going to have to ask Marcus’ permission every time she wants to throw a state dinner?

    This apparent contradiction—how you can be leader of the free world and yet subordinate to some guy —has proved no less confusing to the nation’s conservative evangelicals. For them, the justification for a Bachmann presidential run lies in a very careful, some would say tortured, theological interpretation that emerged during Sarah Palin’s vice-presidential candidacy in 2008.

    The solution to the “Palin Predicament,” as it’s been called, is laid out on the website of the influential Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. The council, which was established in 1987 to fight “the growing movement of feminist egalitarianism,” espouses something called complementarianism—the idea that while men and women are equal they nevertheless must play different (read: unequal) parts. Men are destined to occupy leadership roles at home and at church, while women are obliged to “grow in willing, joyful submission to their husbands’ leadership.” But the civic sphere is distinct from home and church and governed by different rules, these evangelicals reasoned, and if the Bible didn’t explicitly “prohibit [women] from exercising leadership in secular political fields,” neither would they.

    Still, the compromise was an uneasy one. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said that while he liked Palin’s political views, he worried about the effect of her candidacy on her domestic priorities. “It would be hypocritical of me to suggest that I would be perfectly happy to have Christian young women believe that being Vice President of the United States is more important than being a wife and mother,” he wrote two months before the 2008 election. And several more patriarchal-minded evangelicals opposed Palin’s candidacy outright, suggesting that “her political career violates her calling to be a wife, mother, and keeper at home,” and even calling a vote for her ticket “a vote for a curse.”

  14. Lotta,
    Yesterday evening Pete posted a link on the “Jewish women step aside” thread. It is a woman’s site that shows Christian women practicing being submissive to the husband. It explains a lot about how these women are indoctrinated into the submissive (subhuman?) role. There are very interesting comments that make my skin crawl by a woman calling herself “Ephesians 5:22”

  15. Srsly, More tax breaks for the wealthy, and keeping women 2nd class citizens – pregnant and barefoot, and ending all regulation except regulation of women’s health; that’s all the Republicans have. That’s a political party in name only. It’s really just an association of berserkers in suits seeking to destroy individual and collective rights at the most basic survival level. the philosophical underpinnings are pre-intellectual and resemble nothing so much as economic and social Darwinism.

    While Jill is correct that all of the woes of society can’t be heaped at their feet (especially now, with corporatism in the fore) after decades of observation I eel comfortable saying that the overwhelming majority of ills can be. They are the American Taliban and like the Taliban they draw their moral authority from their holy books. The more melded church and state becomes the more extreme the state becomes.

    When it comes to controlling women or any distinct group it all boils down to insecurity and a lack of self respect. It’s about someone feeling like the big fish in the pond no matter how small that pond is even if it’s just the size of a family unit. The lack of self respect extends to the women that buy into too. I have no respect for men that petty or the women that enable them.

    Blouise re: thanks from Lotta (for the Johny Depp vid): You got that right! Thanks Pete.

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