During yesterday’s U.S. House floor vote on an anti-abortion bill aimed at eliminating coverage of abortions nationwide through the Affordable Care Act, Florida congressional representatives split their votes down party lines.
All 19 GOP Representatives helped pass a bill that opponents say would endanger the health of women by cutting funding (even through private insurance) for medically necessary abortions. The bill also aims to expand the Hyde Amendment to private insurance plans because some could receive public dollars through the 2010 health care reform law. Women’s health advocates have said the Hyde Amendment has consistently burdened low-income women and minorities seeking legal abortions. The bill passed 251-172.
Only four out of Florida’s six Democratic representatives showed up to vote against the bill. Both Rep. Corrine Brown and Frederica Wilson were not present.
However, the Democratic members that were present gave impassioned speeches against the bill.
Rep. Ted Deutch, like many other House Democrats, criticized the House majority for focusing efforts on abortion, a legal right, instead of alleviating the country’s jobs crisis.
“Americans don’t want a war on women,” he said, “they want a war on joblessness.”
Deutch also called the bill “appalling” and a “cruel attack on women’s health”
Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a statement that the “bill would override core patient protections and allow hospitals to legally refuse life-saving treatment to women.”
However, it was Rep. Alcee Hastings that gave the most scathing criticism of the bill. During his statement, Hastings said:
My Republican colleagues should be absolutely ashamed of themselves. Instead of working to create jobs for the millions of Americans struggling all across this nation, they have decided they would rather spend time considering a bill that is a direct attack on a woman’s constitutionally protected right to choose and that does not create one single job. Furthermore, it stands no chance of becoming law and is a complete waste of time.
What the Republicans have decided to do is resort back to their old bag of tricks by pulling out the ‘abortion card’ in order to score political points with their base and hide the fact that they have yet to pass a jobs bill.
The Protect Life Act poses a direct threat to the health and lives of women by restricting access to abortion services, including factually accurate information such as the availability and coverage of abortion care by insurance plans. This is beyond irresponsible; it is reprehensible.
All I hear from my colleagues on the other side of the aisle is that they want the government to butt out. Why, then, are we considering legislation that effectively overturns the privacy rights enumerated by the Supreme Court, as well as increases burdensome government regulations on insurance companies? Congress and, for that matter, men in this institution, should not be making personal health care decisions for women. That should be between a woman, her family, and doctor.
The Republican arguments are full of fuzzy facts and they have continually pushed through legislation this year that has weakened environmental protections; cut funding for child nutrition, the unemployed, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries; and torn to shreds any form of a social contract. So whose lives are we protecting here?
President Obama has said we will veto the bill if it makes it to his desk.