November 20, 2004


Negotiators Add Abortion Clause to Spending Bill: House and Senate negotiators have tucked a potentially far-reaching anti-abortion provision into a $388 billion must-pass spending bill. (SHERYL GAY STOLBERG and CARL HULSE, 11/20/04, NY Times)

The abortion language would bar federal, state and local agencies from withholding taxpayer money from health care providers that refuse to provide or pay for abortions or refuse to offer abortion counseling or referrals. Current federal law, aimed at protecting Roman Catholic doctors, provides such "conscience protection'' to doctors who do not want to undergo abortion training. The new language would expand that protection to all health care providers, including hospitals, doctors, clinics and insurers.

"It's something we've had a longstanding interest in," said Douglas Johnson, a spokesman for the National Right to Life Committee. He added, "This is in response to an orchestrated campaign by pro-abortion groups across the country to use government agencies to coerce health care providers to participate in abortions."

The provision could affect millions of American women, according to Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California, who warned Friday that she would use procedural tactics to slow Senate business to a crawl if the language was not altered.

"I am willing to stand on my feet and slow this thing down," Ms. Boxer said. "Everyone wants to go home, I know that, and I know I will not win a popularity contest in the Senate. But they should not be doing this. On a huge spending bill they're writing law, and they're taking away rights from women."

Ms. Boxer said that she complained to Senator Ted Stevens, the Alaska Republican who is the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, but that he told her that House Republican leaders insisted that the provision, which was approved by the House in July but never came to the Senate for a vote, be included in the measure.

"He said, 'Senator, they want it in, and it's going in,' " Ms. Boxer recalled.

Democrats can't win a fight that asks the public to side with the government in forcing people to participate in abortions.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 20, 2004 9:18 AM

In general, the public purse should not pay for the conseqences of private actions.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at November 20, 2004 10:32 AM


Or immorality.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford, Ct. at November 20, 2004 11:50 AM

I doubt if Barbara Boxer cares about the numbers: she was just re-elected and may smell a leadership position in her future (which a reflection on the capacity of her mind).

Posted by: jim hamlen at November 20, 2004 12:05 PM

In other words, the Dems are against the right to choose whether or not one must perform an abortion. Which makes sense. What good is a right if you can't exercise it, and in this case, it's a right that requires a 3rd party's participation? You can't have abortions without abortionists, and if there aren't enough volunteers, then you institute a draft.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at November 20, 2004 3:20 PM

Given a choice between abortions and feral children like one sees around Bogota or Calcutta, I prefer abortions.

All that being said, the Government should not be in the business of making people perform private actions which they do not wish to, unless there is no alternative. If Doctor X doesn't want to perform abortions, government should not compel him to do so unless there is no Doctor Y willing to do so, and there always is an alternative. Thus, if St Vincents won't perform abortions, someone who wants one can always go to Bellevue or Kings County.

Posted by: Bart at November 20, 2004 6:53 PM

The children don't.

Posted by: oj at November 20, 2004 7:21 PM

Given a choice between public safety and bringing the illegitimate progeny of the permanent underclass to term, I do not think I need to explain to you where I stand.

All that being said, any attempt to eliminate abortion, as I want to, requires a two-pronged approach. The first is making contraceptives more easily available to those who should be using them. If children are going to engage in sex, and hormones are hormones and low IQ people will respond to their urges more rapidly than those of us with even limited levels of cognition, then we should accept the fact that they will do so and facilitate the use of contraceptives, rather than throw up roadblocks which serve only to increase the number of illegitimate births. The second prong is the re-creation of a sense of shame when one becomes pregnant out of wedlock, some kind of discretion. That requires a shifting of the culture, an education of the population, the re-development of religious institutions that actually teach morality instead of 'The Church of What's Happening Now.'

Merely passing a law prohibiting abortions will do nothing other than get a lot of young girls killed.

Posted by: Bart at November 20, 2004 7:45 PM

They'll not choose to die rather than have babies.

Posted by: oj at November 20, 2004 7:48 PM

They will choose to go to some barber or taxidermist who does abortions on the side rather than bring their kid to term, as has been done from time immemorial. Illegitimacy was a lot less frequent prior to the 1960s and that was the result of the cultural pressure I discussed earlier. We need to return to that worldview before we change the law.

We need a far more sensible approach than the one we have now and we do not need the churches and those of us who would discourage the unfit from reproducing irresponsibly working at cross purposes as we do now. Free contraceptives in the schools recognizes that reality. Contraceptives are better than either abortions or illegitimate children.

Posted by: Bart at November 20, 2004 8:23 PM

No they won't.

Posted by: oj at November 20, 2004 8:39 PM

They did in the past, and in those days there was a real stigma attached to abortion. Today, where, sadly, there is less of a stigma, they will be less reticent about seeking illicit help.

You are demonstrating the same mentality that believes that laws against drugs actually prevent drug abuse.

Posted by: Bart at November 20, 2004 8:58 PM


You've been reading too many of Ted Kennedy's ravings. Abortion was illegal and unsafe, but rare.

Posted by: oj at November 20, 2004 11:46 PM

I think of a woman who dies from an illegal abortion as a kind of suicide bomber. Somebody else's death was more important than her own life.

Posted by: Joseph Hertzlinger at November 21, 2004 3:52 AM

RE: "in those days there was a real stigma attached to abortion"

There was also a stigma attached to pregnancy outside of marriage. That has largely disappeared.

With abortion truly rare, sexually-active women who get pregnant will still have choices: keeping the child or putting it up for adoption.

Posted by: J Baustian at November 21, 2004 4:36 AM

Bart would like to get rid of uberflussig feral children. If they're really feral, why not just put them on the game list and have an oper season on them.

But you know that's not really what abortion is all about. It's about sundering the cultural nexus between reproduction and sexuality, it's about stealing human capital from the rest of the world by substituting immigration for reproduction, and it's about weakening the West by reducing the numbers of bearers of Western culture--an all-around good deal, no?

Posted by: Lou Gots at November 22, 2004 4:44 PM