Hospitals can refuse to perform abortions under 'Protect Life Act'

The House of Representatives passed a bill barring federal funding for abortions. / flequi (Flickr)

The House of Representatives passed a bill that would allow federally-funded hospitals to refuse to perform abortions, even in cases where a woman would die without it.

Last night, the "Protect Life Act" passed the Republican-controlled House by a vote of 251 to 172. President Obama signed an executive order barring federal funding for abortions in new health care legislation.

"Congress has passed refusal laws before, but it's never blatantly tried to override emergency care protections," Sarah Lipton-Lubet, policy counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, told the International Business Times. "We've heard proponents of this bill say that women don't need emergency abortion care, but that is really just willful blindness to the facts."

Republicans say the bill will ensure the order won't be overturned. However, the bill is expected to die in the Senate, where Democrats have the majority.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)