Richard Neal on Abortion
Democratic Representative (MA-2)
Proponent's Argument for voting Yes:
[Rep. Fortenberry, R-NE]: Americans deserve to know how the government spends their money, and they are right to refuse the use of their tax dollars for highly controversial activities--in this case, abortion. Abortion harms women. It takes the lives of children, and it allows a man to escape his responsibility. The abortion industry many times profits from all of this pain. We can and must do better as a society, and at a minimum, taxpayer dollars should not be involved. This issue has manifested itself most intently during the health care debate. Unless a prohibition is enacted, taxpayers will fund abortion under the framework of the new health care law. Abortion is not health care.
Opponent's Argument for voting No:
[Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-NY]: H.R. 3 is actually dangerous for women's health. By refusing to provide any exceptions to women who are facing serious health conditions--cancer, heart or whatever that may be--you are forcing women to choose to risk their health or to risk bankruptcy, and I think that is morally unacceptable. Under H.R. 3, a woman facing cancer who needs to terminate a pregnancy in order to live might have to go into debt over the $10,000 that the legal and necessary procedure could cost. Despite having both health insurance and tax-preferred savings accounts, this bill would prevent her from having that.
Proponents support voting YES because:
Since 2 years ago, the last Stem Cell bill, public support has surged for stem cells. Research is proceeding unfettered and, in some cases, without ethical standards in other countries. And even when these countries have ethical standards, our failures are allowing them to gain the scientific edge over the US. Some suggest that it is Congress' role to tell researchers what kinds of cells to use. I suggest we are not the arbiters of research. Instead, we should foster all of these methods, and we should adequately fund and have ethical oversight over all ethical stem cell research.
Opponents support voting NO because:
A good deal has changed in the world of science. Amniotic fluid stem cells are now available to open a broad new area of research. I think the American people would welcome us having a hearing to understand more about this promising new area of science. As it stands today, we will simply have to debate the bill on the merits of information that is well over 2 years old, and I think that is unfortunate.
The recent findings of the pluripotent epithelial cells demonstrates how quickly the world has changed. Wouldn't it be nice to have the researcher before our committee and be able to ask those questions so we may make the best possible judgment for the American people?
For over thirty years, NARAL Pro-Choice America has been the political arm of the pro-choice movement and a strong advocate of reproductive freedom and choice. NARAL Pro-Choice America's mission is to protect and preserve the right to choose while promoting policies and programs that improve women's health and make abortion less necessary. NARAL Pro-Choice America works to educate Americans and officeholders about reproductive rights and health issues and elect pro-choice candidates at all levels of government. The NARAL ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2006 NRLC scores as follows:
The ultimate goal of the National Right to Life Committee is to restore legal protection to innocent human life. The primary interest of the National Right to Life Committee and its members has been the abortion controversy; however, it is also concerned with related matters of medical ethics which relate to the right to life issues of euthanasia and infanticide. The Committee does not have a position on issues such as contraception, sex education, capital punishment, and national defense. The National Right to Life Committee was founded in 1973 in response to the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision, legalizing the practice of human abortion in all 50 states, throughout the entire nine months of pregnancy.
The NRLC has been instrumental in achieving a number of legislative reforms at the national level, including a ban on non-therapeutic experimentation of unborn and newborn babies, a federal conscience clause guaranteeing medical personnel the right to refuse to participate in abortion procedures, and various amendments to appropriations bills which prohibit (or limit) the use of federal funds to subsidize or promote abortions in the United States and overseas.
In addition to maintaining a lobbying presence at the federal level, NRLC serves as a clearinghouse of information for its state affiliates and local chapters, its individual members, the press, and the public.
Heritage Action Summary: The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act (H.R.7) would establish a permanent, government-wide prohibition on federal taxpayer funding of abortion and health benefits plans that include coverage of abortion, as well as prevent federal tax dollars from being entangled in abortion coverage under ObamaCare.
ACLU recommendation to vote NO: (1/22/2015): We urge voting against H.R. 7. The legislation is broad and deeply troubling and the ACLU opposes it [because] H.R. 7 would make discriminatory restrictions that harm women's health permanent law. The bill singles out and excludes abortion from a host of programs that fulfill the government's obligation to provide health care to certain populations. Women who rely on the government for their health care do not have access to a health care service readily available to women of means and women with private insurance. The government should not discriminate in this way. It should not use its power of the purse to intrude on a woman's decision whether to carry to term or to terminate her pregnancy and selectively withhold benefits because she seeks to exercise her right of reproductive choice in a manner the government disfavors.
Cato Institute recommendation to vote YES: (11/10/2009): President Obama's approach to health care reform--forcing taxpayers to subsidize health insurance for tens of millions of Americans--cannot not change the status quo on abortion. Either those taxpayer dollars will fund abortions, or the restrictions necessary to prevent taxpayer funding will curtail access to private abortion coverage. There is no middle ground.
Thus both sides' fears are justified. Both sides of the abortion debate are learning why government should not subsidize health care.
Legislative outcome: Passed by the House 242-179-12; never came to a vote in the Senate.
Heritage Action Summary: This legislation will protect unborn children by preventing abortions five months after fertilization, at which time scientific evidence suggests the child can feel pain.
ACLU recommendation to vote NO: (Letter to House of Representatives, 6/18/2013): The ACLU urges you to vote against the misleadingly-captioned "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act," which would ban abortion care starting at 20 weeks of pregnancy. H.R. 1797 [2013 version of H.R.36 in 2015] is part of a wave of ever-more extreme legislation attempting to restrict a woman's right to make her own decision about whether or not to continue a pregnancy. We have seen state after state try to take these decisions away from women and their families; H.R. 1797 would do the same nationwide. We oppose H.R. 1797 because it interferes in a woman's most personal, private medical decisions. H.R. 1797 bans abortions necessary to protect a woman's health, no matter how severe the situation. H.R. 1797 would force a woman and her doctor to wait until her condition was terminal to finally act to protect her health, but by then it may be too late. This restriction is not only cruel, it is blatantly unconstitutional.
Cato Institute recommendation to vote YES: (2/2/2011): Pro-lifers herald a breakthrough law passed by the Nebraska legislature on Oct. 15, 2010: the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act prohibits abortion after 20 weeks gestation except when the mother has a condition which so "complicates her medical condition as to necessitate the abortion of her pregnancy to avert death or to avert serious risk of substantial or irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function." Versions of the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act are [being] introduced in a number of state legislatures.
Legislative outcome: Passed by the House 242-184-6; never came to a vote in the Senate.
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