Bill Severely Undermines Women’s Access to Care
Published: 10.13.11| Updated: 10.14.11
Bill Severely Undermines Women’s Access to Care
Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains strongly criticized the House of Representatives for passing H.R. 358, a dangerous bill that undermines women’s access to care, including eliminating protections for women seeking care in emergency situations.
“This bill is a collection of dangerous ideas that will undermine women’s health,” said Vicki Cowart, president and CEO of PPRM. “Most devastating, the bill eliminates protections for patients seeking care in emergency circumstances, and would allow a hospital to deny lifesaving abortion care to a woman, even if a doctor deems it necessary.”
Planned Parenthood health centers are trusted nonprofit health care providers that provide professional, reliable, and quality health care, including birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings, annual exams, and STD testing and treatment to three million women and men across the country. One in five American women has been to a Planned Parenthood health center at some point in her life. In addition, six in 10 women who receive care from a women’s health center like those operated by Planned Parenthood consider it to be their main source of health care.
H.R. 358 is an attempt by House leaders to force consideration of policies that would drastically erode women’s health and reduce access to basic health care services and information.
“House leaders just can’t keep their eye on the ball and focus on jobs and the economy,” said Cowart. “In fact, this bill will increase the economic burden on already struggling American families by eliminating health insurance provisions that could save them from bankruptcy.”
The Obama administration has issued a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) opposing H.R. 358, indicating President Obama would veto H.R. 358 if it passes Congress.
Read the SAP here.
The bill’s several anti-women’s health provisions include:
H.R. 358 revives the failed Stupak amendment—a provision which would force health plans to drop comprehensive coverage in state health insurance exchanges, cutting off millions of women from the benefits they receive today.
Today, the majority of private health insurance plans include coverage of abortion care. Under H.R. 358, millions of women would be prevented from using their own money to purchase comprehensive health insurance coverage. This is particularly true for women who work for small businesses or women who are self-employed and will get their health insurance through the new exchanges.
H.R. 358 codifies and significantly expands the already expansive refusal clause (also known as the Weldon amendment) without any patient protections.
Under current law (through the 2004 Weldon amendment), hospitals, health care facilities, and insurance plans can refuse to provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions. The Weldon amendment has no protections for patients to ensure they have access to care and information in a timely manner. H.R. 358 codifies this unfair and discriminatory provision.
Worse than even Weldon, H.R. 358 allows health care entities to refuse to "participate in" abortion care. This could mean that a hospital employee with no medical training or role in a patient’s treatment decisions could refuse to process bills, handle medical records, or even set up an examination room.
H.R. 358 allows states to enact sweeping refusal laws that would allow health plans to refuse to cover women’s preventive services, including birth control, without cost- sharing — undoing a new protection that 66 percent of Americans support.
Most egregiously, this latest assault eliminates protections for patients seeking lifesaving abortion care in emergency circumstances.
Under the guise of claiming to protect medical workers, H.R. 358 actually overturns decades of precedent that guarantees people’s access to lifesaving emergency care, including abortion care.
Since 1986, hospitals are prohibited from refusing to provide care to a patient in a life-threatening emergency situation. Current federal law requires hospitals to at least stabilize the patient, offering an essential protection for patients. But under H.R. 358, this critical protection would no longer apply to a woman who needed an abortion to save her life.
Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains empowers individuals and families in the communities we serve to make informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health by providing high quality health services, comprehensive sex education, and strategic advocacy. More than 123,000 women, men, and young adults annually visit our 28 health centers throughout Colorado, New Mexico, Southern Nevada, and Wyoming. Since 1916, we have been the region’s most trusted provider of reproductive health care. For more information about Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, call 1.800.230.PLAN or visit pprm.org for the health center nearest you.