Ahead of Thursday's House vote on the so-called "Protect Life Act," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Cali.) called the bill a "savage" attack on women's health. If passed, H.R. 358 would free anti-abortion hospitals from the legal responsibility of providing a life-saving abortion procedure to a pregnant woman who is dying.
"When the Republicans vote for this bill today, they will be voting to say that women can die on the floor, and health care providers do not have to intervene," Pelosi said at a press conference. "It's just appalling. This is a health issue, and it falls right in there with a lot of other initiatives that they had coming up on the floor about clean air, clean water, mercury -- you name it."
In addition to allowing hospitals to opt out of providing life-saving abortions, H.R. 358, sponsored by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), denies federal funding to all health insurance plans that cover abortion. It would be the first law to restrict what kind of coverage women with private health insurance plans can purchase.
Supporters of the bill say its purpose is to free taxpayers from having to pay for abortions and to free hospitals from having to provide them against their will. But the Hyde amendment, which has been in place for 30 years, already prohibits the flow of taxpayer dollars to any kind of abortion service.
"I can't even describe to you the logic of what it is that they are doing," Pelosi said. "I just know that you'll see a large number of women on the floor today fighting for women's health issues as well as to point out how savage this is about withholding care for a woman because of this legislation."