Olympia Snowe on Abortion
Republican Sr Senator (ME)
That evening the phone rang at my home. On the 1st ring, I thought, "Olympia's voting for Alito." Olympia said the Maine Republican Party had voted to field a challenger against her in a primary election if she opposed Alito.
A primary always invites a stronger challenger in the general election; this is an unavoidable dynamic that every incumbent politician has to confront. Could Snowe afford to vote her conscience on the threat to Roe v. Wade and women's reproductive freedoms if it means a costly and bitter fight in a primary? She would spend much of her campaign funds to combat negative advertising in that intraparty battle.
In fairness to Olympia, her vote would not have mattered; Judge Alito had more than enough votes to win confirmation, including some from Democrats.
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
Proponents recommend voting YES because:
This bill deals with how young girls are being secretly taken across State lines for the purpose of abortion, without the consent of their parents or even the knowledge of their parents, in violation of the laws of the State in which they live. 45 states have enacted some sort of parental consent laws or parental notification law. By simply secreting a child across State lines, one can frustrate the State legislature's rules. It is subverting and defeating valid, constitutionally approved rights parents have.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Some States have parental consent laws, some don't. In my particular State, it has been voted down because my people feel that if you ask them, "Do they want their kids to come to their parents?", absolutely. But if you ask them, "Should you force them to do so, even in circumstances where there could be trouble that comes from that?", they say no.
This bill emanates from a desire that our children come to us when we have family matters, when our children are in trouble, that they not be fearful, that they not be afraid that they disappoint us, that they be open with us and loving toward us, and we toward them. This is what we want to have happen. The question is: Can Big Brother Federal Government force this on our families? That is where we will differ.
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.
Dear Mr. President:
We write to urge you to expand the current federal policy concerning embryonic stem cell research.
Embryonic stem cells have the potential to be used to treat and better understand deadly and disabling diseases and conditions that affect more than 100 million Americans, such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, and many others.
We appreciate your words of support for the enormous potential of this research, and we know that you intended your policy to help promote this research to its fullest. As you know, the Administration's policy limits federal funding only to embryonic stem cells that were derived by August 9, 2001.
However, scientists have told us that since the policy went into effect more than two years ago, we have learned that the embryonic stem cell lines eligible for federal funding will not be suitable to effectively promote this research. We therefore feel it is essential to relax the restrictions in the current policy for this research to be fully explored.
Among the difficult challenges with the current policy are the following:
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.
SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS:
Sen. FRANKEN: The Compassionate Care for Servicewomen Act is a straightforward but vital piece of legislation. It would ensure that servicewomen in our military have reliable and timely access to emergency contraception when they need it.
Emergency contraception, or Plan B as it is more commonly known under its brand name, is Food and Drug Administration-approved medication that prevents pregnancy. It is safe and, if taken shortly after pregnancy, highly effective. Since 2006, the FDA has approved it for over-the-counter sale. Currently, women 17 years old and older may purchase emergency contraception over the counter, while those younger require a prescription. Emergency contraception is widely available at pharmacies throughout the U.S. The problem this legislation is meant to address is that there's no guarantee that emergency contraception be available to our servicewomen in the military. Immediate accessibility is especially important in the case of emergency contraception because it is only effective if taken within a short window of time. Once a pregnancy is established, it doesn't work. The fact that more than 2,900 sexual assaults were reported last year in the military only heightens the need to ensure emergency contraception is always available.
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