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Chris Van Hollen on Abortion

Democratic Representative (MD-8)

 


Voted NO on banning federal health coverage that includes abortion.

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.

Reference: No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act; Bill H.3 ; vote number 11-HV292 on May 4, 2011

Voted YES on expanding research to more embryonic stem cell lines.

Allows federal funding for research that utilizes human embryonic stem cells, regardless of the date on which the stem cells were derived from a human embryo, provided such embryos:
  1. have been donated from in vitro fertilization clinics;
  2. were created for the purposes of fertility treatment;
  3. were in excess of the needs of the individuals seeking such treatment and would otherwise be discarded; and
  4. were donated by such individuals with written informed consent and without any financial or other inducements.

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?

Reference: Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act; Bill HR 3 ("First 100 hours") ; vote number 2007-020 on Jan 11, 2007

Voted YES on allowing human embryonic stem cell research.

To provide for human embryonic stem cell research. A YES vote would:
Reference: Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act; Bill HR 810 ; vote number 2005-204 on May 24, 2005

Voted NO on restricting interstate transport of minors to get abortions.

To prevent the transportation of minors in circumvention of certain laws relating to abortion, and for other purposes, including:
Reference: Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act; Bill HR 748 ; vote number 2005-144 on Apr 27, 2005

Voted NO on making it a crime to harm a fetus during another crime.

Vote to pass a bill that would make it a criminal offense to harm or kill a fetus during the commission of a violent crime. The measure would set criminal penalties, the same as those that would apply if harm or death happened to the pregnant woman, for those who harm a fetus. It is not required that the individual have prior knowledge of the pregnancy or intent to harm the fetus. This bill prohibits the death penalty from being imposed for such an offense. The bill states that its provisions should not be interpreted to apply a woman's actions with respect to her pregnancy.
Reference: Unborn Victims of Violence Act; Bill HR 1997 ; vote number 2004-31 on Feb 26, 2004

Voted NO on banning partial-birth abortion except to save motherís life.

Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003: Vote to pass a bill banning a medical procedure, which is commonly known as "partial-birth" abortion. The procedure would be allowed only in cases in which a women's life is in danger, not for cases where a women's health is in danger. Those who performed this procedure, would face fines and up to two years in prison, the women to whom this procedure is performed on are not held criminally liable.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Santorum, R-PA; Bill S.3 ; vote number 2003-530 on Oct 2, 2003

Voted NO on forbidding human cloning for reproduction & medical research.

Vote to pass a bill that would forbid human cloning and punish violators with up to 10 years in prison and fines of at least $1 million. The bill would ban human cloning, and any attempts at human cloning, for both reproductive purposes and medical research. Also forbidden is the importing of cloned embryos or products made from them.
Reference: Human Cloning Prohibition Act; Bill HR 534 ; vote number 2003-39 on Feb 27, 2003

Rated 100% by NARAL, indicating a pro-choice voting record.

Van Hollen scores 100% by NARAL on pro-choice voting record

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.

Source: NARAL website 03n-NARAL on Dec 31, 2003

Emergency contraception for rape victims at all hospitals.

Van Hollen co-sponsored for emergency contraception for rape victims

OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: Prohibits any federal funds from being provided to a hospital unless the hospital provides to women who are victims of sexual assault:

  1. accurate and unbiased information about emergency contraception;
  2. emergency contraception on her request; and
  3. does not deny any such services because of the inability of the woman to pay.

SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: Sen. CLINTON: This bill will help sexual assault survivors across the country get the medical care they need and deserve. It is hard to argue against this commonsense legislation. Rape--by definition--could never result in an intended pregnancy. Emergency contraception is a valuable tool that can prevent unintended pregnancy. This bill makes emergency contraception available for survivors of sexual assault at any hospital receiving public funds.

Every 2 minutes, a woman is sexually assaulted in the US, and each year, 25,000 to 32,000 women become pregnant as a result of rape or incest. 50% of those pregnancies end in abortion.

By providing access to emergency contraception, up to 95% of those unintended pregnancies could be prevented if emergency contraception is administered within the first 24 to 72 hours. In addition, emergency contraception could also give desperately needed peace of mind to women in crisis.

The FDA recently made EC available over the counter for women 18 years of age and older. Despite the ideologically driven agenda against this drug, the research has been consistently clear--this drug is safe and effective for preventing pregnancy. Women deserve access to EC. For millions of women, it represents peace of mind. For survivors of rape and sexual assault, it offers hope for healing and a tomorrow free of painful reminders of the past.

LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; never came to a vote.

Source: Compassionate Assistance for Rape Emergencies Act (S.3945) 06-S3945 on Sep 26, 2006

Rated 0% by the NRLC, indicating a pro-choice stance.

Van Hollen scores 0% by the NRLC on abortion issues

OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2006 NRLC scores as follows:

About the NRLC (from their website, www.nrlc.org):

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.

Source: NRLC website 06n-NRLC on Dec 31, 2006

Provide emergency contraception at military facilities.

Van Hollen co-sponsored providing emergency contraception at military facilities

Requires emergency contraception to be included on the basic core formulary of the uniform formulary of pharmaceutical agents for the pharmacy benefits program of the Department of Defense.

Introductory statement by Sponsor:

Sen. CLINTON: Last year, the FDA made emergency contraception available over-the-counter for women 18 years of age and older. Research shows that emergency contraception is safe and effective for preventing pregnancy. More than 70 major medical organizations, including the America Academy of Pediatrics, recommended that Plan B be made available over-the-counter.

Women deserve access to this medically approved drug and our servicewomen are no different. By providing access to emergency contraception, up to 95% of those unintended pregnancies could be prevented if emergency contraception is administered within the first 24 to 72 hours. For survivors of rape and incest, emergency contraception offers hope for healing.

Current Department of Defense policy allows emergency contraception to be available at military health care facilities. Currently, it is available at some facilities, but not others. The Compassionate Care for Servicewomen Act would simply ensure broader access by including emergency contraception on the basic core formulary, BCF, a list of medications stocked at all military health care facilities.

There is a real need for this legislation. According to the Pentagon, the number of reported sexual assaults in the military increased approximately 24% in 2006 to nearly 3,000. We have reports from women & health providers in the military who have sought emergency contraception on an emergency basis and have been unable to obtain it quickly enough.

Ensuring that emergency contraception is more broadly available at military health care facilities is a fair, commonsense step that everyone should be able to agree on. It is my sincere hope that my colleagues join me in supporting this important legislation.

Source: Compassionate Care for Servicewomen Act (S.1800 & HR.2064) 07-HR2064 on Apr 26, 2007

Ban anti-abortion limitations on abortion services.

Van Hollen co-sponsored Women's Health Protection Act

Congressional summary:: Women's Health Protection Act: makes the following limitations concerning abortion services unlawful and prohibits their imposition or application by any government:

Opponent's argument against (Live Action News): This is Roe v. Wade on steroids. The bill is problematic from the very beginning. Its first finding addresses "women's ability to participate equally"; many have rejected this claim that women need abortion in order to be equal to men, or that they need to be like men at all. The sponsors of this pro-abortion bill also seem to feel that pro-life bills have had their time in this country, and that we must now turn back to abortion. The bill also demonstrates that its proponents have likely not even bothered attempting to understand the laws they are seeking to undo, considering that such laws are in place to regulate abortion in order to make it safer. Those who feel that abortion is best left up for the states to decide will also find this bill problematic with its overreach. Sadly, the bill also uses the Fourteenth Amendment to justify abortion, as the Supreme Court did, even though in actuality it would make much more sense to protect the lives of unborn Americans.

Source: H.R.3471 & S.1696 14-H3471 on Nov 13, 2013

Access safe, legal abortion without restrictions.

Van Hollen co-sponsored S.217 & H.R.448

Congressional Summary: Congress finds the following:

Opponents reasons for voting NAY:(National Review, July 17, 2014): During hearings on S. 1696, Senators heard many myths from abortion proponents about the "need" for the bill's evisceration of all life-affirming legislation.

Source: Women's Health Protection Act 15_H448 on Jan 21, 2015

Funding abortion avoids discrimination against poor women.

Van Hollen voted NAY No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act

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.

Source: Supreme Court case 15-H0007 argued on Jan 22, 2015

Constitutional right to terminate pregnancy for health.

Van Hollen voted NAY Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

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.

Source: Supreme Court case 15-H0036 argued on May 13, 2015

Keep federal funding for family planning clinics.

Van Hollen signed keeping federal funding for family planning clinics

Excerpts from Letter to the Senate Majority Leader from 46 Senators: The recent vote in the House to overturn rules protecting Title X health centers would deny women access to care. In 2015, Title X provided basic primary and preventive health care services such as pap tests, breast exams, and HIV testing to more than four million low-income women and men at over 4,000 health centers. In large part due to this work, the US unintended pregnancy rate is at a 30-year low, and rates of teenage pregnancy are the lowest in our nation's history. The success of the program is dependent on funding. Family planning services, like those provided at Planned Parenthood and other family planning centers, should be available to all women, no matter where they live or how much money they make.

Opposing argument: (Heritage Foundation, "Disentangling the Data"): Planned Parenthood received approximately $60 million of taxpayer money under Title X, and $390 million through Medicaid. To ensure that taxpayers are not forced to subsidize America's number one abortion provider, Congress should make Planned Parenthood affiliates ineligible to receive either Medicaid reimbursements or Title X grants if they continue to perform abortions. Taxpayer money from these programs should instead be redirected to the more than 9,000 federally qualified health center sites that provide comprehensive primary health care for those in need without entanglement in abortion.

Supporting argument: (ACLU, "Urging Title X"): Title X services help women & men to plan the number and timing of their pregnancies, thereby helping to prevent approximately one million unintended pregnancies, nearly half of which would end in abortion. However, current funding is inadequate. Had Title X funding kept up with inflation it would now be funded at nearly $700 million. We ask that Title X be funded at $375 million, which is $92 million above its current funding level.

Source: Letter to the Senate Majority Leader from 46 Senators 17LTR-TITX on Mar 1, 2017

Ensure access to and funding for contraception.

Van Hollen co-sponsored ensuring access to and funding for contraception

A bill to expand access to preventive health care services that help reduce unintended pregnancy, reduce abortions, and improve access to women's health care. The Congress finds as follows:

  1. Healthy People 2010 sets forth a reduction of unintended pregnancies as an important health objective to achieve over the first decade of the new century.
  2. Although the CDC included family planning in its published list of the Ten Great Public Health Achievements in the 20th Century, the US still has one of the highest rates of unintended pregnancies among industrialized nations.
  3. Each year, 3,000,000 pregnancies, nearly half of all pregnancies, in the US are unintended, and nearly half of unintended pregnancies end in abortion.
  4. In 2004, 34,400,000 women, half of all women of reproductive age, were in need of contraceptive services, and nearly half of those were in need of public support for such care.
  5. The US has the highest rate of infection with sexually transmitted diseases of any industrialized country. 19 million cases impose a tremendous economic burden, as high as $14 billion per year.
  6. Increasing access to family planning services will improve women's health and reduce the rates of unintended pregnancy, abortion, and infection with sexually transmitted diseases. Contraceptive use saves public health dollars. For every dollar spent to increase funding for family planning programs, $3.80 is saved.
  7. Contraception is basic health care that improves the health of women and children by enabling women to plan and space births.
  8. Women experiencing unintended pregnancy are at greater risk for physical abuse and women having closely spaced births are at greater risk of maternal death.
  9. A child born from an unintended pregnancy is at greater risk of low birth weight, dying in the first year of life, being abused, and not receiving sufficient resources for healthy development.
Source: Prevention First Act (S.21/H.R.819) 2007-HR819 on Feb 5, 2007

Focus on preventing pregnancy, plus emergency contraception.

Van Hollen signed Prevention First Act

Source: S.21&H.R.463 2009-S21 on Jan 6, 2009

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