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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

House Republicans introduce draconian anti-abortion legislation

The GOP’s effort to systematically strip women of their reproductive rights has reached a climax.

The “”No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act”” (a.k.a. H.R. 3), one of the Republican Party’s highest legislative priorities, is one of two pieces of anti-abortion legislation that could deny certain women their right to choose.

Current federal law, namely, the Hyde Amendment, prohibits government subsidization of abortion unless the pregnancy endangers the life of the mother or is the result of incest or rape.  

But under the “”No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,”” rape victims who rely on Medicaid, or any other federally subsidized abortion coverage, would have to prove that their pregnancy was the result of “”forcible rape.””

This means victims who weren’t raped “”forcefully”” enough, or were either complicit or incapacitated, would be denied federally funded abortion coverage. These mostly low-income women would have to come up with the money for an abortion on their own or would have to carry the unwanted pregnancy to term.

The legislation did not define “”forcible,”” but the word was removed last week after the backlash from women’s rights organizations came to a head. Republican Christopher Smith of New Jersey, the bill’s principal architect, said the term was being “”misconstrued”” and that it was not his intention to “”redefine rape”” as the bill’s opponents have contended.

But H.R. 3 isn’t just an assault on recipients of government-subsidized healthcare; the legislation would also impose tax penalties on individuals who are privately insured. If you own a private health insurance plan that provides abortion coverage, regardless of whether you’ve used it, your taxes could increase.

H.R. 358, poorly titled the “”Protect Life Act,”” introduced by Republican Joseph Pitts of Pennsylvania, has also caused an uproar.

Under the “”Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act”” (EMTALA), all hospitals are required to provide emergency care, regardless of the patient’s ability to pay. If the hospital cannot provide the necessary treatment, the patient must be transferred to a hospital that can.

H.R. 358’s “”conscious clause”” would override EMTALA, allowing hospitals to refuse to provide emergency abortion care, even if the woman’s life is at risk. Pro-life hospitals unwilling to terminate life-threatening pregnancies wouldn’t have to, nor would they be required to facilitate a transfer.

According to this legislation, neither the fetus nor the mother has a right to life. Apparently, allowing two people to die is less morally objectionable than performing an emergency abortion.

Abortion remains a highly polarized issue and has been the source of an ongoing culture war in this country. A veritable army of women’s rights organizations and feminist groups have mobilized in an effort to combat this latest onslaught of anti-choice legislation.

But the GOP is sadly mistaken if it believes the 2009 election was a mandate to focus on abortion. Some of those who voted Republican last November remain unemployed. Apparently, creating more “”jobs, jobs, jobs”” isn’t Speaker of the House John Boehner’s priority.

Roe v. Wade was settled more than 60 years ago, yet Republicans still remain intent on flatly denying women their right to choose. Their sick preoccupation with restricting access to safe and affordable abortion will earn them a permanent minority in 2012.

The women who will die from “”back-alley”” abortion complications won’t get a second chance.

— Nyles Kendall is a political science junior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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