The US House of Representatives is expected to vote Thursday on a bill that would allow federally funded hospitals that oppose abortion to refuse to perform the procedure — even when a woman would die without it.

From Laura Basset on The Huffington Post:

Under current law, every hospital that receives Medicare or Medicaid money is legally required to provide emergency care to any patient in need, regardless of his or her financial situation. If a hospital is unable to provide what the patient needs — including a life-saving abortion — it has to transfer the patient to a hospital that can.

Under H.R. 358, dubbed the “Protect Life Act” and sponsored by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), hospitals that don’t want to provide abortions could refuse to do so, even for a pregnant woman with a life-threatening complication that requires a doctor terminate her pregnancy. This provision would apply to the more than 600 Catholic hospitals governed by the Catholic Health Association, which are regulated by bishops and prohibited from performing abortions.

(Quick aside: how ironic that a bill that could lead to the death of women is named the “Protect Life Act.”)

As Basset notes, H.R. 358 would also ban federal funding for health care plans that merely include abortion coverage. This would go a step beyond existing law, which disallows federal dollars from being spent directly on abortions.

If you want to tell your House representative to vote no on this proposed legislation, check out these already formatted action alerts from the American Civil Liberties Union, National Women’s Law Center, or the American Humanist Association. Or, click here to find your local representative and send your own message.

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