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House Democrats Introduce Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act

Representative Tim Ryan (D-IL), who opposes abortion rights, and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), who supports abortion rights, and other Democrats recently introduced in the House the Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act (H.R. 6067) which aims to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions.

The bill would establish grants for sexuality education that focus on pregnancy prevention. The legislation outlines that it would give preference to various programs, including those that encourage teens to delay sexual initiation and would provide information about contraception. The grants would be available only to those applicants who agree to provide age-appropriate, factually and medically accurate and complete, scientifically-based information. The legislation, which includes 20 separate initiatives, would also require that states cover contraceptives for women with incomes of up to 200% of the federal poverty level, increase funding for health care for low-income women with children, and provide no-cost visits from nurses to teens and women who have given birth for the first time. The legislation would also expand tax credits for adoption and fund childcare services for parents in college. In addition, the bill includes an informed consent provision that would require physicians who perform abortions to notify patients of risks associated with the procedure. The introduction of the bill brought about strong statements from both anti-choice and pro-choice lawmakers.

During a press conference introducing the legislation, Representative Ryan described the bill as a creative approach to reducing the number of abortions by decreasing the number of unintended pregnancies among women. “In order to address an old problem, we need to build a new coalition,” Ryan said.1 “Democrats are united in our efforts to significantly reduce the number of abortions in America by broadening the stagnant political debate that too often accompanies this issue.” According to Ryan Keating, a spokesperson for Representative Ryan, no Republicans were asked to sponsor the bill. “It's hard enough to get Democrats on board with this,” Keating said.2

Representative DeLauro said that she and the other ten Democratic cosponsors are “serious about addressing the issue of abortion head-on while protecting the privacy of women and their families.”3

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rahm Emanuel (IL), who also cosponsored the legislation, said that while the abortion issue has not yet been a make-or-break issue in close races for the House this year, it may be more significant as the elections get closer. Emanuel said that “once you get out of the world of Washington, black and white absolutes [on the abortion issue] end. There are lots of ‘yes, buts' and ‘no, comma, well ...'” He said the legislation would begin to address what he and the others called the “abortion grays,” those who support keeping abortion legal, but would like to see fewer of them.4

Yet, Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ), co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus (CPLC), said the measure would “lead to more abortions, not less” because the increased funding for contraception services for low-income women would go to family planning clinics that offer abortion services at the same facility. Smith said that the increased funding would, in turn, increase the number of family-planning clinics that are one-stop shops where “in one room, they talk contraception, and in the other room, they kill your baby.”5

Representative James Oberstar (D-MN), Democratic co-chairman of the CPLC, said that he does not support the bill. A spokesperson for Oberstar said that the legislation will not win the backing of the entire caucus, which includes about 200 Republicans and 35 Democrats, because of the contraception provisions.6

Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life, said that while the anti-abortion organization had originally worked with Ryan to develop the legislation, they withdrew their support over the emphasis on preventing pregnancy. “Our goal is to help pregnant women,” said Day, adding that she thinks Ryan's goal “is more prevention and contraception.”7

The bill's cosponsors said that the legislation is unlikely to reach the full House for a vote this year, but that they hope introducing it now will set up consideration of the measure next year.8

To view a full copy of the Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act, please see: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?c109:5:./temp/~c1091vNPQa::

References

  1. Paul M. Krawzak, “Abortion Bill Meets Resistance,” Canton Repository , 15 September 2006, accessed on 17 September 2006, <http://www.cantonrep.com/index.php?ID=307941&Category=23>.
  2. David Skolnick, “Ryan touts bill aimed to curtail abortions,” Youngstown Vindicator , 15 September 2006, accessed 17 September 2006, <http://www.vindy.com/content/local_regional/287037338254238.php>.
  3. “Abortion Bill Meets Resistance.”
  4. Elaine Povich, “Health-House Dems Propose Bill to Reduce Numbers of Abortions,” CongressDaily, 14 September 2006.
  5. “Abortion Bill Meets Resistance.”
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. “Health-House Dems Propose Bill to Reduce Numbers of Abortions.”

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