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Letting Women Die

October 13, 2011

As I write this post, the U.S. House of Representatives is debating HR 358 — the Let Women Die Bill. This latest GOP assault on reproductive rights purposefully eliminates protections for women seeking lifesaving abortion care in emergency circumstances.

It’s outrageous and extreme. Any politician who votes for this bill is putting politics before women’s health.  And before women’s lives.

The most egregious provision of the bill overturns decades of precedent that guarantees people’s access to lifesaving emergency care, including abortion.  A federal law (known as EMTALA), enacted in 1986, requires hospitals to provide emergency care to all (regardless of their ability to pay or other factors). Although the hospitals don’t  have to give people free care, they must at least stabilize the patient, offering an essential protection for patients.  If a hospital can’t provide the care a patient needs, it is required to transfer the patient to a hospital that can.  Under H.R. 358, this critical protection would no longer apply to a woman who needed an abortion to save her life.  It would allow a hospital to deny lifesaving abortion care to a woman (including transferring her to a hospital that would perform the abortion).  Simply put, they could just let a pregnant woman die.

And we know that some hospitals would go to that extreme.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 13, 2011 6:36 pm

    Let me state up front that I am ardently anti-abortion. I hate to be the bearer of bad news for you. But you shouldn’t believe everything you read. Here is the relevant text of the bill you claim “Under H.R. 358, this critical protection would no longer apply to a woman who needed an abortion to save her life”

    No funds authorized or appropriated by this Act (or an amendment made by this Act), including credits applied toward qualified health plans under section 36B of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 or cost-sharing reductions under section 1402 of this Act, may be used to pay for any abortion or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion, except–
    `(A) if the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest; or
    `(B) in the case where a pregnant female suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the female in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself.

    So either you are lying, or you believe everythig you read on liberal websites.

  2. Lisa permalink*
    October 13, 2011 8:07 pm

    You correctly reference the sections relating to insurance coverage for abortion services in the bill. This language mirrors the exceptions for rape, incest, and life endangerment that are also in the Hyde Amendment.

    However, the bill does not end there. The language empowering hospitals to refuse to provide lifesaving abortion care, including transferring the patient to a hospital that will provide that care, starts on page 7. It is clear that this legislation allows hospitals to deny care – lifesaving abortion care – based on the religious beliefs of an institution. Talking Points Memo provided an analysis of these provisions in February and so did The Hill’s Congress Blog: You can find more recent analysis in Mother Jones: and in the Huffington Post:

  3. October 13, 2011 9:58 pm

    Understand that I can sound curt at times, especially when I see the sources you cite. They are decidedly far left save for The Hill. I follow all those sites and find their “reporting” of politics suspect.

    However, there isn’t a hospital in America that would sit by and allow a woman to die if it came between her life or her child’s. Even pro-life advocates and hospitals make exceptions for the life of the mother. I just dont think the spin attached to a bill which spares me from funding someone elses abortion.

  4. Lisa permalink*
    October 14, 2011 2:30 pm

    When one Catholic hospital did the right thing by not letting a woman die (providing the lifesaving abortion) the nun involved in making the decision was excommunicated and the hospital lost its “catholic status”. For the government to tell hospitals that it is ok not to provide lifesaving care, because it’s an abortion is to truly impose one’s own ideology onto others. Take a look at: and
    To see how this plays out in hospitals around the country, See and the article cited in this commentary:'s%20a%20Heartbeat%20article.pdf

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