Mr. President, Here's Common Ground on Abortion!
by Nat Hentoff
Cardinal Rigali endorses ‘common ground’ bill supporting pregnant women
Click here to read the full text of
Cardinal Rigali's endorsement (PDF)
Click here to read the text of
HR 2035 (PDF)
Two pro-life Democrats – Rep. Lincoln Davis of Tennessee and Sen. Bob Casey
of Pennsylvania – have introduced the Pregnant Women Support Act (H.R. 2035 in
the House, S. 2407 in the Senate). As Davis says, "It's not about pro-life or
pro-choice." It's about "what we can do to bring a reduction to abortions."
To begin, as the Associated Press reported (March 25): "For many Americans, the
recession is affecting the most intimate decisions about family planning. ...
Planned Parenthood of Illinois clinics performed an all-time high number of
abortions in January, many of them motivated by the women's economic worries."
Before this year, Davis has emphasized: "Of the 1.29 million abortions performed
annually, 73 percent of women seeking abortions list economic factors as
contributing to the decision to have an abortion."
Accordingly, as Davis reports (Johnson City Press, Feb. 19), the Pregnant Women
Support Act would "Repeal the sunset on adoption tax credits and make them
permanent ... fully fund federal WIC Program, Special Nutrition for Women,
Infants and Children (WIC) ... and increase funding for domestic violence
programs" (the latter violence against women often spurring abortions).
This literally life-saving legislation, in vital need of support from the
president, would also end the denial to pregnant women of health care from
insurance companies because of "pre-existing conditions."
Like Davis, Bob Casey, an Obama campaign supporter, has reintroduced the
Pregnant Women Support Act in the current Senate in the belief that "we can
transform this debate by focusing on issues that united us, not the issues that
His list of what the bill actually contains is too long for the space I have,
but here are sections that provide a crucial challenge to both pro-lifers and
pro-choicers to focus their passions on real-life, real-time common ground.
The Pregnant Women Support Act, Casey notes, "creates a new pilot program for
'Life Support Centers' to offer comprehensive and supportive services for
pregnant women, mothers and children.
"Establishes a national toll-free number and public awareness campaign to offer
women support and knowledge about options and resources available to them when
they face an unplanned pregnancy."
And listen to this, Mr. President: "Establish nurse home visitation for pregnant
and first time mothers as an eligible benefit under Medicaid and SCHIP. One
example of this is the Nurse-Family Partnership, an evidence-based program and
national model in which nurses mentor young first-time and primarily low-income
mothers, establishing a supportive relationship with both mother and child.
"Studies have shown this program to be both cost effective and hugely successful
in terms of life outcomes for both mothers and children."
Two additional parts of the Pregnant Women Support Act address mounting
concerns. It will "assist pregnant and parenting teens to finish high school and
prepare for college or vocational training" – and will "help pregnant college
students stay in school, offering them counseling as well as assistance with
continuing their education, parenting support and classes, and child care
Last year, during a crescendo in the abortion wars, Davis said (The Tennessean,
Sept. 12, 2008): "People get angry and they scream and shout ... and nothing
gets done for the people we all say we care about. If we can pass this bill and
get it implemented across the country, I believe we can dramatically reduce the
number of abortions."
That same newspaper story told of 28-year-old Michelle Smith working two jobs
while a full-time student at Volunteer State Community College, and deciding to
have an abortion for economic reasons. But, at a Nashville Agency, Hope Clinic,
for young women confronting unplanned abortions, she was given a pregnancy test
and a sonogram.
"Once I saw my daughter's face," Michelle Smith said, "I knew I didn't want to
have an abortion." (Note: The Pregnant Women Support Act would "give women free
sonogram examinations by providing grants for the purchase of ultrasound
As of this writing, Obama has given no indication that he will back the Pregnant
Women Support Act. If you really believe in reducing pregnancies, stiffen your
back, Mr. President.
Now a parent of a lively 2-year-old, Michelle Smith says: "She never ceases to
amaze me." That happens to me every time I see my newest grandchild, 4-year-old