CommunityPam's House Blend

The “social conservatives” (i.e. wingnuts) are playing hardball with anti-choice measures — if you’re pro-choice, you better take a look at how they plan to chip away at it — it’s tucked in a sure-to-pass spending bill. Negotiators Add Abortion Clause to Spending Bill (NYT):

House and Senate negotiators have tucked a potentially far-reaching anti-abortion provision into a $388 billion must-pass spending bill, complicating plans for Congress to wrap up its business and adjourn for the year.

The provision may be an early indication of the growing political muscle of social conservatives who provided crucial support for Republican candidates, including President Bush, in the election.

It would bar federal, state and local agencies from withholding taxpayer money from health care providers that refuse to provide or pay for abortions or refuse to offer abortion counseling or referrals. Current federal law, aimed at protecting Roman Catholic doctors, provides such “conscience protection” to doctors who do not want to undergo abortion training. The new language would expand that protection to all health care providers, including hospitals, doctors, clinics and insurers.

“It’s something we’ve had a longstanding interest in,” said Douglas Johnson, a spokesman for the National Right to Life Committee. He added, “This is in response to an orchestrated campaign by pro-abortion groups across the country to use government agencies to coerce health care providers to participate in abortions.”

“I am willing to stand on my feet and slow this thing down,” Ms. Boxer said. “Everyone wants to go home, I know that, and I know I will not win a popularity contest in the Senate. But they should not be doing this. On a huge spending bill they’re writing law, and they’re taking away rights from women.”

Ted Stevens is hell-bent on passing this, ignoring the pleas of nine of his female colleagues to change the language of the measure.

Ms. Boxer said that she complained to Senator Ted Stevens, the Alaska Republican who is the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, but that he told her that House Republican leaders insisted that the provision, which was approved by the House in July but never came to the Senate for a vote, be included in the measure.

…Louise Melling, director of the Reproductive Freedom Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, which has opposed the provision, said it would effectively strip states of their right to “enforce laws that were designed to protect women’s health.”

For instance, she said, there are four states – Hawaii, Maryland, New York and Washington – that pay for some abortions for low-income women through their Medicaid programs. Under the language included in the omnibus bill, hospitals would not have to comply with those requirements.

The bill is going to pass, people. The rural and poor women will be left with few options. The wingnuts are apparently telling us that they are ready for the back-alley abortion and babies-dumped-in-trash cans to make a nostalgic comeback. The “New-Old Right to Choose.” Don’t think contraception is far behind; any pharmacist, doctor or hospital that believes THAT is morally objectionable will be able to deny it to someone.

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding