House passes “Protect Life Act”—which would let hospitals deny emergency abortion care to women in distress

Congress Contemplates Brutal Anti-Abortion Law
The Protect Life Act would permit hospitals to let women die rather than perform life-saving abortions.
By Rick Ungar | Wed Oct. 12, 2011 5:49 PM PDT

In what would be a major and potentially deadly change in American healthcare policy, The House of Representatives will take up H.R. 358 —The Protect Life Act—this week. The bill would permit federally funded hospitals to refuse abortion services even to women who would likely die without the procedure.

As the law currently stands, hospitals are required by EMTALA to provide emergency care to anyone who walks through their doors. If a hospital is unable or unwilling to perform a necessary procedure, it is obligated to stabilize the patient and then transfer the individual to a facility that can perform the procedure and agrees to do so. As a result of the EMTALA requirements, the 600 plus Catholic hospitals in the nation who are unwilling to perform abortions on religious grounds, even in life-threatening circumstances to the mother, are obligated to transfer that patient in need of such a procedure to a hospital that agrees to perform the required operation.

If The Protect Life Act were to pass, this would no longer be the case. Hospitals that do not care to perform abortions, for whatever reason and even when the procedure is required to save the life of the mother, would be legally permitted to simply do nothing.

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