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House Approves Lifetime-Backed Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act

With the support of Lifetime Television and millions of people who signed a petition on the women’s-targeted-network’s Web site, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the bipartisan Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act, which would end the practice of “drive-through” mastectomies.

Introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D.-Conn.), the bill (S.910/H.R.1849) was sponsored by 223 representatives from both sides of the House and passed by a 421-2 count. The legislation would guarantee that the patient and her doctor can make the decision of whether she will go home or stay in the hospital for 48 hours after a mastectomy. The bill ensures that any decision in favor of a shorter or longer hospital stay will be made by the patient and her doctor, not an insurance company.

Lifetime, which has been working with members of Congress for 12 years in an effort to pass the legislation, has aired PSAs and launched an online petition, which amassed 23 million digital signatures, to urge Congress to pass the act. Working with Lifetime, Grammy-nominated singer Jewel and Desperate Housewives star Marcia Cross also came to Washington to bring attention to the cause. Both joined other celebrities to appear in television spots and vignettes to urge the ending of drive-through mastectomies.

Organizations including the American Cancer Society,, Breast Cancer Network of Strength, Families USA, the Oncology Nursing Society, Sisters Network Inc and Susan G. Komen Foundation also support the legislation.

All told, one in eight women will eventually develop breast cancer and, according to the National Cancer Institute, more than 182,000 will be diagnosed with the disease this year alone.

“From the moment we began talking to viewers about the issue of ‘drive-through’ mastectomies – 12 long years ago – we’ve heard from millions of women that this was indeed a huge problem and they wanted Congress to address it,” Meredith Wagner, executive VP of public affairs at Lifetime Networks, said in a statement. “We’re so gratified this bill has passed through the House of Representatives – now we urge the Senate to act quickly so this legislation can become law. Our deepest gratitude to Representative Rosa DeLauro for bringing this matter to our attention -- and to the many other legislators who have supported this legislation.”