The House of Representatives is right now taking up H.R. 358, the Protect Life Act -- a bill proposed by anti-abortion stalwart Representative Joe Pitts, a Republican from Pennsylvania, that would allow hospitals to refuse to perform an abortion, even when the life of the mother is at stake. Currently, hospitals that generally do not perform abortions (but are required to if the mother's life is at stake) are still required to help transfer a woman who needs one to a hospital that will provide it. But the Protect Life Act waves that requirement as well. There are over 600 federally funded Catholic Hospitals in the country run by Catholic Bishops and whose bishops make final decisions about care in hospitals under their jurisdiction.
If you think denying a woman a procedure to save her life is never going to happen, you need only look to the bishop of Phoenix, who in 2009 said, "While medical professionals should certainly try to save a pregnant mother's life, the means by which they do it can never be by directly killing her unborn child." Women die in other countries because of laws that allow religious dogma to determine medical decisions. Last year, a young woman in Poland died after several doctors refused to treat her colon condition for fear it would hurt the fetus. The woman miscarried anyway, then passed away. Though the bill has no real chance of getting through the Senate or getting President Obama's signature, it is a radical vision of what America should look like. That it will likely pass in the House is a scary indication of how extreme our lawmakers have become.