"This bill shows the disconnect between GOP leaders and the American public," added Rep. Nydia Velasquez (D-NY). "We owe job creation to the 14 million people who are without a job - wages and income are going down and poverty is growing in America."
Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) warned that the bill undermines the ability of hospitals to deal with women who come in a crisis situation.
"Hospitals may not be required to serve them under this bill," he said.
The measure aimed at amending the Affordable Care Act to prevent abortion coverage is set for a vote on the House floor Thursday afternoon, although the Senate has no plans to take it up and it has already drawn a veto threat from the White House, which Wednesday denounced the bill as nothing more than a distraction.
"Instead of continuing to focus on creating jobs and getting the American people back to work, tomorrow the House of Republicans is scheduled to turn its attention to a divisive, politically motivated piece of legislation that unnecessarily restricts the private insurance choices that women and their families have today," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
Republicans, however, have been looking for an opportunity to clarify the abortion provisions of the President's health care law after the issue was the main focus of dispute over the health care overhaul. Many Republicans still harbor doubts over a last-minute executive order Obama signed to sway anti-abortion Democrats.
The executive order pledged to apply the Hyde Amendment, which is named after the late Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) and restricts most federal funding for abortions, to the healthcare overhaul, but anti-abortion lawmakers were skeptical, arguing that loopholes still existed.
"The Protect Life Act is a crucial measure that not only returns to the status quo on federal funding for abortion, it also protects health care entities from discrimination that is already occurring under health reform," Rep. Joseph R. Pitts (R-PA) said at a Wednesday hearing.