by Steven Ertelt
September 14, 2006
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — House Democrats unveiled a new bill Thursday that they claim is an effort to reduce abortions. But detractors say the measure isn’t a realistic attempt to lower abortions and is designed to appeal to moderate voters during an election year who may otherwise back pro-life candidates.
House Democrats’ national campaign chairman, pro-abortion Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, helped lead a press conference on Thursday to announce the bill.
Instead of placing any limits on abortion, the bill is a version of a measure the Senate rejected in March 2005.
The measure would fund teen pregnancy prevention programs that focus on so-called safe sex rather than abstinence. The legislation would also expand a birth control program for low-income women and promote some adoption initiatives.
The idea behind the bill is to appeal to middle of the road voters who oppose abortion but don’t have problems with contraception or the morning after pill. It’s seen as one way abortion advocates can reach out to voters knowing that the majority of Americans are pro-life.
The measure aims to do that in part by claiming to provide a provision to notify women considering an abortion about the medical risks associated with it. However, the pro-abortion College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which has long opposed telling women of abortion’s dangers, will craft what abortion practitioners would provide.
The legislation also comes at a time when Senate Democrats are under heavy criticism from pro-life groups for stalling legislation that prohibits someone from taking a teenager to another state for a secret abortion without her parents’ knowledge.
Both the House and the Senate approved the measure, but a final version must be worked out to be sent to President Bush for his signature. Senate Democrats blocked a normally non-controversial procedural motion to have members of both chambers meet to craft a final version of the bill.
In an interview with Newsday, Rachel Laser, a policy analyst with the group Third Way, which seeks to help Democrats make pro-abortion and other views appeal to mainstream Americans, talked about the bill.
"From our perspective, it shows Democrats are changing the debate and making it a priority to reduce abortions in America while leaving personal liberties intact," she claimed.
In an attempt to make the bill appeal to both sides of the abortion debate, pro-life Rep. Tim Ryan, an Ohio Democrat, and pro-abortion Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, will co-sponsor the proposal.
Unlike the measure the Senate rejected last March, the House bill would not force private health care programs to pay for contraception, but it would increase taxpayer funding for family planning programs — which puts millions of dollars into the pockets of Planned Parenthood.
The measure also would include funding for nurses to make home health care visits to teen mothers and funding for day care programs. While those are provisions that would help women avoid abortions, the other problems with the bill will likely lose it support from pro-life lawmakers.