Senate Faces Abortion Debate On Bankruptcy Bill Targeting Pro-Life Advocates

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 8, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senate Faces Abortion Debate On Bankruptcy Bill Targeting Pro-Life Advocates Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 8, 2005

Washington, DC ( — Abortion and bankruptcy reform normally have nothing to do with each other as policy issues, but the two will collide today as members of the Senate have a fierce debate over the issue of abortion. It could sink the bankruptcy reform bill as a result.

The Senate is expected to vote today on an amendment to a bankruptcy bill that would prevent political protesters from using bankruptcy as a means of escaping payment for fines and penalties they incur by breaking the law.

Senator Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, says the vote will be close.

He told reporters Monday that GOP Senate leaders had told Republican senators “you can’t vote for this because it will hold up the bankruptcy bill" and, as a result, “they fell off in droves.”

Schumer said, according to an MSNBC report, that Republican leaders were “twisting arms left and right, not on the merits of the amendment, but rather on the idea that it will hold up the bill.”

The Family Research Council issued a call to Senators on Monday to oppose the amendment.

"There is absolutely no justification for singling out pro-lifers from bankruptcy protections other than open bigotry against faithful, pro-life activists, who are not reputed to pose a threat to America’s financial institutions," says Tony Perkins, the group’s president.

"Other protesters, including those who support abortion, will remain protected by bankruptcy laws," Perkins explained. "Is this fair in America — are we, as advocates for life, now considered second-class Americans?"

However, Schumer told MSNBC that the amendment doesn’t single out pro-life advocates, but applies to all political protesters.

“It is a compromise amendment,” Schumer said. "It is not pro-choice, it is not pro-life; it is a rule of law amendment. It doesn’t mention abortion. Anyone who uses violence to achieve this kind of goal, whether it’s animal rights people or anybody else, is subject to the amendment."

Senator Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, says FRC’s analysis is correct. He says that there haven’t been any pro-life people trying to avoid paying fines by using bankruptcy.

“There hasn’t been one [whose debts] have been discharged under the present law," Coburn said.

Abortion advocates say the vote, the first on abortion in the new session of Congress, will be a preview of how the Senate will handle abortion issues this term.

"Senators need to decide who they will stand with," NARAL president Nancy Keenan said about the vote.

The amendment tied up the bankruptcy bill in 2000 and 2002.

Related web sites:
Family Research Council –