The US House of Representatives is scheduled to vote tomorrow on an anti-abortion bill drafted by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops that would permit health care entities to not only prohibit women access to abortion services but also deny women counseling, referral to another provider, and medically appropriate information. HR 4691, also known as the “Abortion Non-Discrimination Act of 2002,” was introduced in May by Rep. Michael Bilirakis (R-FL). The bill creates a “conscience clause” that allows hospitals and insurance plans that refuse to offer or cover abortion procedures to continue receiving federal funds. The Feminist Majority, the National Abortion Rights and Action League and Planned Parenthood as well as other abortion rights groups oppose the conscience clause bill because it could threaten women’s health by allowing facilities to refuse to provide abortion services even to protect the life or health of a woman.
Earlier this month, House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX), tried to force a vote on HR 4691 by holding hostage HR 3450 – a bill that would renew vital funding for community health centers. Late last year, the community health bill – which allocates funds to approximately 1,000 centers across the country that provide health care for about 12 million low-income and uninsured people – was originally moving quickly through the House until Armey attached the conscience clause measure, a loophole long sought by anti-abortion groups. However, pro-choice lawmakers then stepped in and removed the clause from the bill. While Armey then agreed to have the two bills heard separately, he has since refused to schedule a vote on the community health bill until he conscience clause bill is voted on. The Senate passed the community health bill without the conscience clause and without opposition this past spring.
ONLINE CHAT Chat with special guest speaker Alea Woodlee, Director of the Pro-Choice Public Education Project (PEP) in an event hosted by the Feminist Majority Foundation’s (FMF) Campus website, www.FeministCampus.org on Tuesday, October 1st at 8:00pm EST.