WASHINGTON, D.C., October 12, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – President Barack Obama has promised to veto a bill strongly backed by pro-life leaders as a last-ditch effort to dodge the potentially massive expansion of abortion under the new federal healthcare reform law.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced last week that the Protect Life Act, H.R. 358, will be considered in the House of Representatives on Thursday. The measure would amend President Obama’s Affordable Care Act to reflect the Hyde amendment by prohibiting taxpayer dollars from funding any health plan that includes coverage of elective abortions. The measure retains Hyde’s exception for abortions performed due to the child’s conception in rape or incest or to save the mother’s life.

The bill also makes clear that no health insurance carrier may be forced to provide coverage of abortion in any of its health plans, and strengthens the conscience rights of health care workers and institutions to reject abortion training, procedures, or referrals.

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President Obama, whose administration fought vigorously last year to keep Hyde amendment language out of the health care bill, announced that he “strongly opposes” the bill because it “intrudes on women’s reproductive freedom and access to health care,” claiming the health care bill already preserves federal policy against tax funding for abortion.

“H.R. 358 goes well beyond the safeguards found in current law and reinforced in the President’s Executive Order by restricting women’s private insurance choices,” said the White House in a statement Wednesday. “If the President is presented with H.R. 358, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.”

Pro-life leaders, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, contend that the bill is critical for preserving the status quo on abortion and conscience rights in the face of a health reform that promises to drastically alter the landscape of the abortion battle in America.

The health bill has already led to a major expansion of the abortion industry: health officials announced this summer that virtually every private insurer, including sectarian institutions, would soon be forced to offer free contraception, abortifacient birth control, and sterilization in its health plans as part of an essential “preventive care” package.

Click here to contact members of the House via the National Right to Life Committee.