Using common sense and “fighting sin” or the oil and water equivalents in legislative efforts to reduce incidences of abortion
There’s a bill making its way through the legislative process in the House of Representatives entitled H.R.3 — No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. The efforts to pass it by some while ignoring more encompassing efforts to reduce incidences of abortion that are less punitive is another example of individual wills taking precedence over common sense.
HR-3 is something of a redundant bill offered by conservatives to apparently appease the religious right concerning abortions. Among other things it seeks to prohibit federal funds from being used for any health benefits coverage that includes coverage of abortion. Current law under the Hyde amendment already prevents the use of tax payer money to be used for abortion services and states that any federal health plans that receive federal funds must keep that money segregated from any used for abortion services.
But this bill goes deeper in that it seeks to cut off any conceivable source that might aid in abortions for unwanted pregnancies by intending to limit exclusions only for those rapes where the “female was the subject of an act of forcible rape or, if a minor, an act of incest; or in the case where the pregnant female suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the pregnant female in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself” according to section 309 0f the bill.
This consideration is compassionate when compared to more stringent anti-abortionists views like former Republican Senatorial candidate for Nevada Sharon Angle who felt that “a 13 year-old child who has been raped by her father” should not be allowed to have an abortion because, as she stated there is “a plan and a purpose, a value to every life no matter what it’s location, age, gender or disability … two wrongs don’t make a right.”
Angle expressed that the 13-year-old should have to endure the pregnancy and “look for some alternatives” that would turn this “lemon situation into lemonade.” because a “master plan” often doesn’t come as ready-mixed for instant results. Clearly Ms. Angle feels God uses such brutal and traumatic methods to give greater meaning to a young girl’s concept of romantic love.
However, through omission, section 309 could be interpreted to disallow abortions with federal funds if rapes were the result of the more euphemistic term, “date rapes”; forcible sex with females of all ages between two people who already know each other and may have even had consensual sex at an earlier time. A sympathetic judge and jury who hold strong “pro-life” views may be inclined to rule against a victim of date rape mistakenly feeling that she brought it upon herself.
Fortunately, for the time being, it appears this part of the bill has been removed after pressure was applied from opponents like the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, National Council of Jewish Women, Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America and the American Civil Liberties Union. These activists are now trying to diminish other aspects of the bill that appear to be aimed at low-income women, the most vulnerable population to fall victims of rape, by:
- Prohibiting the inclusion of abortion in any health care service furnished by a federal health care facility or by any physician or other individual employed by the federal government.
- Enhances the legal capabilities of the courts to go after suspected violators of federal limitations to abortion funding through the use of injunctions or preventing the disbursement of all or a portion of federal financial assistance until the prohibited conduct has ceased.
- Bolsters the HHS Office for Civil Rights of the Department to receive, investigate, and refer to the appropriate federal agency complaints alleging a violation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) abortion provisions.
- Deny any tax credits or benefits for private insurers’ policies that includes coverage of abortion, including any medical deduction for such amounts or any credit for such an employer-sponsored plan.
Among the 173 congressional delegates that support the bill, including 8 Democrats, are the American Family Association, National Right to Life Committee, Susan B. Anthony List, the Family Research Council, Priests for Life and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The American Family Association (AFA) sent out a legislative action alert expressing the belief that “If this bill is signed into law, you will never again be troubled by the thought that some of the money you send to the IRS is being siphoned off to kill babies in the womb.”
Opponents like the AFA oppose funding for abortions from the moment of conception as well as any tax payer funded efforts of contraception. Unlike the Roman Catholic Church(a partner in their opposition to HR 3) who think contraception is immoral, Bryan Fischer with the AFA says they are not, at least with married couples, but implies as much in a comment of his that says “We want married couples to have more children, not fewer. Our problem is not that married couples are having too many kids, our problem is that they aren’t having enough.” Fischer even goes as far as recommending that “the American standard ought to be a minimum of three children per married couple.”
The view taken by those on the right that links any and all federal funding to abortion often overlooks efforts by Democrats who consider themselves pro-life that seek ways to prevent abortion by educating young women not only about contraception but how to cope and deal with carrying unwanted and unexpected pregnancies to full term. In 2006 Democrat Lincoln Davis of Tennessee proposed an initiative known as “95-10” that sought to reduce the number of abortions in the U.S. by 95 percent over the course of 10 years. With the aid of his Senate counterpart, Bob Casey (D-Pa), the initiative was generated in both Houses in 2009 under the title of the Pregnant Women Support Act.
The “Democrats for LIfe” website support this bill as a means of assisting “pregnant women who wish to carry their pregnancies to term but because of lack of resources believe abortion is their only option.” The intent is to use federal resources to avoid abortion, not by narrowing women’s access to quality health resources, but to encourage them to carry their pregnancy to full term and then choose to either keep the child or put it up for adoption. Many poor women avoid this objective often because they lack the financial and private support means to carry such an option through.
The bill was stalled in Congress and never became law. The last known action to re-introduce this legislation was in June, 2010 when it was referred to the House Agriculture’s Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, Nutrition and Forestry. It has not progressed beyond that point.
It hasn’t been revealed why this sensible bill never saw the light of day in Congress. Doubt and suspicion too often surfaces with members of Congress that align themselves with entrenched supporters of their separate views on the issue of abortion. Those who claim to want what’s best for the mother and her unborn child seem never willing to concede territory that they suspect will lead to further abuses and deprivations of choice.
In an era of political gridlock one more attempt to improve the health and welfare of the least empowered of citizens becomes a cause-celebre for so-called principled stands. The result seems to be putting women at risk along with the life they carry inside them. The right’s attempt to prevent healthy outlets that allow poor pregnant women to avert abortions is stuck in a mode of thought that seems bent on condemning their actions for getting pregnant more than it aims to save the life of the unborn.