September 15, 2006
Abortion bill meets resistance
By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service
WASHINGTON Rep. Tim Ryan introduced legislation Thursday to
reduce abortions that supporters hailed as an unprecedented
collaboration on the issue by pro-abortion and anti-abortion
But the proposal that the two-term Democrat from Niles authored
ran immediately into resistance from key anti-abortion lawmakers
and organizations, who charged it could actually increase the
number of abortions.
Ryan, an anti-abortion Democrat, described the bill as a
creative approach to reducing abortions by decreasing the number
of unplanned pregnancies.
“In order to address an old problem, we need to build a new
coalition,” Ryan said at a press conference that Democratic
lawmakers from both sides of the abortion issue attended. “This
is a new direction on reducing unintended pregnancies.”
The legislation, called the “Reducing the Need for Abortion and
Supporting Parents Act,” focuses on preventing unwanted
pregnancies through increasing federal support for sex
education, family planning and contraception.
It also would provide more federal funds for health care and
other services for pregnant women, increase the adoption tax
credit and require all insurance plans to cover pregnancy.
About 1.3 million abortions are performed each year.
Because the Democratic Party has been accused of being hostile
to abortion opponents in the past, the unveiling of the plan and
the support it has attracted from high-profile Democrats such as
Rep. Rahm Emmanuel, D-Ill., drew unusual attention.
Backers said it represents a realistic way to reduce abortions
that both abortion-rights supporters and opponents can support.
“We are serious about addressing the issue of abortion head-on
while protecting the privacy of women and their families,” said
Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., a co-sponsor who is a strong
proponent of abortion rights.
The plan immediately drew opposition from key anti-abortion
lawmakers and activists, who doubted it would get any support in
their quarter or pass muster in the Republican-controlled
Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., co-chairman of the House Pro-Life
Caucus, blasted the legislation, which he said would “lead to
more abortions, not less.”
That’s the case, he said, because the bill would increase
funding for a federal program that provides contraceptives to
The added funding would increase the number of family-planning
programs, which he said are often based in the same facilities
as abortion clinics.
Smith said the clinics are one-stop shops where “in one room,
they talk contraception, and in the other room, they kill your
Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life, said the
anti-abortion organization had worked with Ryan to develop the
bill but withdrew its support over the emphasis on preventing
“Our goal is to help pregnant women,” she said, adding that she
thinks Ryan’s goal “is more prevention and contraception.”
Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., the Democratic co-chairman of the
Pro Life Caucus, also is not supporting the bill.
His spokeswoman Mary Kerr said the contraception provisions will
prevent the bill from winning the backing of the entire caucus,
which includes about 200 Republicans and 35 Democrats.
Ryan said he had pitched the bill to several anti-abortion
organizations and they were not supportive.
One admirer of the proposal, Sister Sharon Dillon, a Roman
Catholic nun, said Catholics could not support the bill’s
promotion of contraception, which is against church teaching.
But she added, “We recognize this kind of comprehensive approach
as an important step in building a culture of life.”
Two other Ohio lawmakers, Reps. Ted Strickland, D-Lisbon, and
Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo, also have signed on as co-sponsors.