Bernie Sanders on Abortion
Democratic primary challenger; Independent VT Senator; previously Representative (VT-At-Large)
SANDERS: I don't think there's much of a debate about that. I have a 100% lifetime pro-choice voting record. Overwhelming majority of Democrats are pro-choice. I'm going to do everything that I can to see that the Republicans do not get away with their horrific effort to defund Planned Parenthood, which provides health care to 2.5 million women. But if we're going to become a 50-state party, if you're going to go to Omaha, Nebraska, which has a Republican governor, two Republican senators, all Republican congresspeople, Republican legislature, should I reject going there to Omaha? I don't think so. I hope very much he wins. And, by the way, his opponent, the incumbent mayor, is also anti-choice [AND] anti-labor and anti-education. The choice is clear. And I hope very much the Democratic candidate there wins.
A: Bernie believes in protecting a woman's right to choose and has a lifetime pro-choice record:
A: In addition to being a strong proponent of access to safe abortions, Bernie has been a vocal advocate for family planning and funding for contraceptives. In January 2009, he supported the Prevention First Act, which includes grants to states for family life education. These programs expand funding for family planning and access to contraceptives, and are aimed toward teens to prevent unwanted pregnancies and STDs.
Q: Why is there so much congressional activity in this area?
A: Over the past few years, there has been an "unprecedented wave of state-level abortion restrictions" rolling back progress on women's reproductive healthcare rights. Access to safe resources for healthcare have been more limited than in the past. Bernie has actively worked to combat restrictions by co-sponsoring a bill that would lift restriction on abortion, known as the Women's Health Protection Act.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Sen. WICKER (R-MS): This amendment with one issue and one issue only--whether US taxpayer dollars will be provided to help fund coercive population control policies, such as China's one-child policy--a policy that relies on coerced abortion and forced sterilization. Specifically, this pro-child, pro-family, pro-woman amendment would restore the Kemp-Kasten antipopulation control provision, which has been a fundamental part of our foreign policy for almost a quarter century. As it has always done, Kemp-Kasten allows the President to certify that funds are not used for coercive family practices. My amendment is needed because the underlying bill reverses this longstanding provision.
Sen. COBURN (R-OK): I stand in the corner of pro-life. But I want to debate this issue as if I were pro-choice. If we believe that women have a right to choose, why in the world would we send money to UNFP that is going to take that right away from women in other countries? You can't be on both sides of this issue. Either you believe in a woman's right to choose or you do not. Or you only believe in a woman's right to choose in America, and because the Chinese have too many people, you don't think that same human right ought to be given to women in China. There is no question that UNFP will mix this money, and we will fund forced abortions in China. [Without this amendment] American taxpayer dollars are going to go to China to enforce coercive abortion against the will of women and force sterilization against the will of women in China.
Opponent's argument to vote No:None spoke against the amendment.
SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Sen. ALLARD: This amendment will codify the current unborn child rule by amending the SCHIP reauthorization reserve fund. This amendment will clarify in statute that the term "child" includes the period from conception to birth. This is a pro-life vote.OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO: Sen. FEINSTEIN: We already clarified SCHIP law that a pregnant woman's coverage under SCHIP law is optional. We made it obligatory so every pregnant woman has the advantage of medical insurance. This amendment undoes that. It takes it away from the woman and gives it to the fetus. Now, if a pregnant woman is in an accident, loses the child, she does not get coverage, the child gets coverage. We already solved the problem. If you cover the pregnant woman, you cover her fetus. What Senator Allard does is remove the coverage from the pregnant woman and cover the fetus.LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Amendment rejected, 46-52
SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Sen. ENSIGN: This amendment enables enforcing the Child Custody Protection Act, which passed the Senate in a bipartisan fashion by a vote of 65 to 34. Too many times we enact laws, and we do not fund them. This is going to set up funding so the law that says we are going to protect young children from being taken across State lines to have a surgical abortion--we are going to make sure those people are protected. OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Sen. BOXER: We already voted for $50 million to enhance the enforcement of child protective laws. If Sen. Ensign's bill becomes law, then that money is already there to be used for such a program. LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Amendment rejected, 49-49 (1/2 required, or 50 votes; Sen. Byrd & Sen. McCain absent)
Proponents support voting YES because:
Sen. VITTER: Whatever side of the abortion debate you are on, we can all agree on one thing: Abortion is a very divisive topic. In that context, I think it is the right policy to say we are not going to send taxpayer dollars to support groups that perform abortions. Now, the other side will say: Well, we have current Federal law that says we are not going to use taxpayer dollars to fund abortions. But, quite frankly, that is not good enough. Because now, we send Federal dollars to abortion providers and money is fungible--it is a big shell game and it supports their organizations and, in many cases, that funding is a huge percentage of their overall revenue.
Letter of Support from Family Research Council:
Recent reports indicate that Planned Parenthood generated over $900 million in income in 2006, of which over $300 million came from government. We should not be sending taxpayer money to an organization such as Planned Parenthood that performs abortions. Your support for the Vitter amendment will uphold the principle that the US taxpayer should not have to subsidize the abortion industry.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Sen. BOXER: The Vitter amendment is "Big Brother" at its very worst. It tells non-governmental entities how they should spend their own private funds. This amendment punishes the very organizations that work hard every day using their own funds to provide family planning services and reproductive health care, including legal abortion services. If Sen. Vitter wants to deny these funds, he should work to outlaw all abortion. That is an honest way. But to punish a private organization that works to give women a full array of reproductive health care is really, I think, a very sorry idea.
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?
Status: Vetoed by Pres. Bush Bill passed, 63-34
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Christian Coalition Voter Guide inferred whether candidates agree or disagree with the statement, 'Public Funding of Abortions (Such as Govt. Health Benefits and Planned Parenthood)' Christian Coalition's self-description: "Christian Voter Guide is a clearing-house for traditional, pro-family voter guides. We do not create voter guides, nor do we interview or endorse candidates."
The Christian Coalition Voter Guide inferred whether candidates agree or disagree with the statement, 'Parental Notification for Abortions by Minors ' Christian Coalition's self-description: "Christian Voter Guide is a clearing-house for traditional, pro-family voter guides. We do not create voter guides, nor do we interview or endorse candidates."
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:
At-Risk Communities Teen Pregnancy Prevention Act: to award grants for teenage pregnancy prevention programs & prevention research.
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