Revised SCHIP Bill Does Not Codify Rule Helping Women Avoid Abortions

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 25, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Revised SCHIP Bill Does Not Codify Rule Helping Women Avoid Abortions

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 25,

Washington, DC ( — Pro-life groups largely did not weigh in on Thursday on a bill to reauthorize the SCHIP program, but the measure could possibly have picked up extra votes had it contained a provision they support. The bill did not codify a program into law that helps pregnant women avoid abortions.

In 2002, President Bush authorized a change in the SCHIP program that allowed states to cover poor pregnant women and their unborn babies under the medical insurance program.

In total, 12 states including California, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Texas, Wisconsin and Michigan have done so.

Pro-life groups were thankful for the "unborn child rule" Bush put in place because it provides help to vulnerable pregnant women who might have an abortion because of financial pressures.

When Congress considered a bill to massively expand the SCHIP program, pro-abortion leaders removed the unborn child rule. Eventually, Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa added an amendment that made sure the rule stayed in place for now.

However, lawmakers rejected an amendment by Sen. Wayne Allard of Colorado to make the unborn child rule a permanent part of the SCHIP program.

President Bush ultimately vetoed the bill and Democratic leaders put forward a revised version of their SCHIP expansion bill on Thursday that failed to get enough votes to override a second expected presidential veto.

Douglas Johnson, the legislative director of National Right to Life, told that "the Democratic leadership in the House [again] refused to allow a vote on an amendment to codify the rule," with language similar to the Allard amendment.

While the revised SCHIP bill contains the Grassley "neutrality" language, abortion advocates missed out an opportunity to gain more support for the bill by prohibiting lawmakers from making the unborn child rule permanent.

States are still free to use the rule to help poor pregnant women avoid abortions but Congressional leaders could still work to topple it, especially if an abortion advocate is elected in next year’s elections.