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February 15, 2011

Misguided Priorities: Committee Adds to Anti-Choice Chaos, Moves Extreme Bill to Full House

Energy and Commerce advances legislation that allows hospitals to refuse abortion care to women who will die without it; panel rejects amendments protecting women’s access to contraception

Washington D.C. - Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, called the passage of H.R. 358 out of the Energy and Commerce Committee yet another sign of how anti-choice politicians in Congress are misguided and wildly out of step with the nation's values and priorities.

"Instead of fulfilling their campaign promise to focus on jobs and the economy, the anti-choice House leadership instead is moving on an extreme anti-choice agenda," Keenan said. "It is unfathomable that a congressional committee would move a bill that, among other egregious provisions, would allow a hospital to refuse a woman abortion care even if her life depended on it. More and more, the American people are waking up to the reality that some politicians in the House are willing to let women die, as long as it advances their ideological agenda."

In addition to the provision that would allow hospitals to refuse to provide life-saving abortion care to women, H.R. 358, authored by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) would effectively ban insurance coverage of abortion in the new health-care system. The ban on insurance coverage mirrors the Stupak-Pitts amendment to the health-reform bill that Congress ultimately rejected last year.

Keenan said that it was equally outrageous that lawmakers attacking abortion also rejected amendments offered to the bill that would have made clear the bill did not hamper states' abilities to ensure women's access to contraceptive coverage.

"This committee's hypocrisy is astounding," Keenan said.  "Now the American people know that the out of control war on women's reproductive rights includes attacking contraception, the best way to help prevent unintended pregnancy and thus reduce the need for abortion."

"These anti-choice politicians may have an out-of-control agenda, but they don't have a mandate to attack a woman's right to choose from the American people," Keenan said. "Any lawmaker who votes for bills like this one will be forced to answer why letting a woman who needs abortion care to save her life has apparently become the new jobs agenda."

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