Introduced by Representatives Tim Ryan of Ohio, who is anti-abortion, and Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, who is for abortion rights, the bill would, among other aspects, increase access to contraceptives for low-income women and expand adoption programs.
At a news conference announcing the bill, Mr. Ryan and Ms. DeLauro, flanked by leaders of advocacy groups, said the bill could help soften the partisan divide over abortion.
Ms. DeLauro said the bill could “broker a détente” and help “turn down the volume on the culture war.” This is an issue that has caused Democrats a great deal of trouble over the years, and one that presidential and congressional candidates have tried to navigate over time.
For the third consecutive Congressional sessions, Mr. Ryan and Ms. DeLauro have introduced a bill aimed at trying to bridge the schism over this divisive issue. With the legislation now garnering increased support from both supporters and opponents of abortion rights, Mr. Ryan said it is an “idea whose time has come.”
Indeed, the bill comes at a time when abortion is increasingly becoming a topic of discussion in the debate over health care legislation, with anti-abortion lawmakers and advocates concerned that the proposed bills could force private insurance companies to cover abortions. Some lawmakers, like Mr. Ryan and Ms. DeLauro, have endorsed neither forcing nor forbidding insurance companies to cover abortions.
The White House has not thrown its support behind the bill, but there are certainly reasons to believe that they endorse some of the ideas expressed in the legislation. President Obama spoke approvingly of working to reduce abortions at Notre Dame’s commencement in May, and his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, co-sponsored both previous versions of the bill while in Congress.
The newest bill, which the centrist group Third Way helped craft, would also include funds to increase health care coverage for pregnant women and children and expand access to comprehensive sex education programs. It is being backed by abortion rights groups like Planned Parenthood and NARAL, both of which had representatives at the news conference, and anti-abortion pastors like Derrick Harkins of Washington and Joel Hunter of Northland, Fla. But other religious conservative groups, like the Family Research Council, have sharply criticized the bill.
Mr. Hunter noted that supporters of the bill on both sides of the debate were “taking heat” from other members of their movements, but that the bill was important because it “links together traditional adversaries in a way that advances each of our goals without compromising any of our values.”
Tony Perkins, the Family Research Council’s president, blasted the bill on Wednesday for financing family planning programs and groups like Planned Parenthood.
This “proposal is fraught with funding for abortion providers and provisions that further encourage promiscuous sex and discourage parental involvement,” Mr. Perkins said in a statement.
The past two versions of the bill, neither of which made it out of committee, had no Republican co-sponsors. But Mr. Ryan said the latest bill, which has no estimated price tag yet, is “now open for support from all quarters.”
I'm surprised that someone who is "anti-abortion" helped craft this, because it sounds like an alright piece of legislation. I only WISH the new healthcare system would force insurance companies to cover them. How many times do you have to say, "If men could have them, they would already be covered"?