Washington, D.C. - Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor today against H.R. 358, which is a radical assault on women's health. Below are the Leader's remarks.
“Thank you, Madam Speaker. I thank the gentleman for yielding and for giving me this opportunity. As a mother of five children, when I brought my baby, youngest baby, number five home from the hospital, that week my oldest baby was turning six years old. The birth of a baby is such a jubilant occasion, and women's health is essential to the health of families, of raising our children in a way that has respect for all of them.
“It's very interesting that we are taking this bill up now when the number one priority is the creation of jobs, and once again, we come to the floor of the House with a major distraction that ain't going nowhere in order to cater to an extreme agenda of the Republican Majority.
“The American people want us to take up jobs. They want us to take up the American Jobs Act, which [two-thirds] of the American people say they want us to consider. It would create nearly 2 million jobs. Or we could vote on the China currency legislation, which would [create] 1 million jobs and has the support of the majority of the Members in this body including 61 cosponsors from the Republican side of the aisle.
“But again, we're instead pursuing the Republicans' ideological agenda, forcing us to re-litigate a very divisive issue. Every woman in America should be very concerned about this assault on women's health. Let us begin the debate with a very clear understanding of the facts. The federal funding of abortion is already, and has been for a long time, prohibited under the Hyde Amendment, except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.
“Furthermore, the Affordable Care Act prohibits the use of U.S. taxpayer dollars to fund abortions. That is why the Catholic Health Association said, ‘We are confident that [the health care reform] does not allow federal funding of abortion and that it keeps in place important conscience protections for caregivers and institutions alike.'
“I repeat, the Catholic Health Association said, ‘We are confident that [the health care reform] does not allow federal funding of abortion and that it keeps in place important conscience protections for caregivers and institutions alike.'
“This bill is a radical departure from existing law. It represents an unprecedented and radical assault on a woman's access to the full range of health care services. For the first time, this bill places restrictions on how a woman with private insurance can spend her own private dollars in purchasing health insurance.
“As a result of this bill, millions of women using Health Insurance Exchanges are likely to no longer have access to insurance policies that cover all reproductive services.
“Furthermore, supporters of this bill falsely claim that this bill is simply a restatement of the Stupak amendment considered by the House in 2009. It is not. This bill is very different from the Stupak amendment - it appears that health care providers could withhold care for women with life-threatening conditions. In other words, a woman could be dying on the floor of the hospital, and when you vote for this bill, you will be saying the caregivers would not have [inaudible] to treat that woman and keep her from dying.
“The Obama Administration has come out strongly against this legislation, rightly saying it ‘intrudes on women's reproductive freedom and access to health care and unnecessarily restricts the private insurance choices that women and their families have today.'
“So just a few points again. Public funding of abortion is prohibited under the Hyde amendment, except in cases of rape, incest, life of the mother. The Catholic Health Association says we are confident that the bill does not, the Affordable Care Act does not allow federal funding of abortion and that it keeps in place important conscience protections for caregivers and institutions alike. And third, it is not the Stupak amendment.
“This legislation is bad public policy and it is the wrong priority for Congress. It is an assault on women's health, and women should know that. It prevents them from using their own dollars to buy their own private insurance, should they be part of an exchange.
“I urge my colleagues to vote no and implore the Republican majority to turn their attention to what this country needs, and that is jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, and more jobs.”