‘The politics of this are the real thing’

Analysis But Democrats on Capitol Hill say the push is unlikely to be stopped. They counter that it’s a tactic to thwart or scuttle an attempt to end anti-abortion legislation entirely, if such a…

'The politics of this are the real thing'


But Democrats on Capitol Hill say the push is unlikely to be stopped.

They counter that it’s a tactic to thwart or scuttle an attempt to end anti-abortion legislation entirely, if such a bill ever gets passed by the Republican-controlled Congress.

“The leadership’s idea is to keep rolling out more bills on the grounds of ‘how can we separate the politics of this from the substance of these policies’ so that when an individual who is pro-life supports a bill like this on a legislative level, that they can say, ‘yeah, it’s just a political issue,'” says Democrat Rep. Lois Frankel of Florida.

“They’re not changing the laws to make abortion illegal, they’re making a political statement. And they’re doing this in order to undermine a bill that may be reintroduced,” she adds.

In May, the House voted to advance two anti-abortion bills aimed at hospitals and clinics. They include a measure that would require abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

In the first of three annual hearings on the topic, health committee Chairman Peter Roskam of Illinois said the bills would both protect women in the event of a medical emergency and limit abortions.

“One in five women will experience a complication of abortion. Often they are a medical emergency,” Roskam said, citing research showing that three in four cases are related to a birth defect or unplanned pregnancy.

He said the insurance industry was also involved, though.

“For instance, we ought to be able to require that women who are living in a metropolitan area have to buy the policy that they need so that they have the protections of 24-hour hospital availability as well as medical transport,” Roskam said.

More than 90 percent of abortions take place in states without admitting privileges requirements. There are also seven states, mostly in the South, that restrict the procedure even more strictly than Roskam’s bill.

The bill has the backing of Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the US, and The American Civil Liberties Union, which sued Mississippi after the state passed its own restrictive abortion law last year.

It also has the support of major medical organizations, which say the legislation not only threatens care to women, but also hurts the reputation of doctors who do abortions.

“If you’re going to be a medical provider, you better understand that your activities as a medical provider matter,” says Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of television’s The Dr. Oz Show.

“Every doctor is concerned that, if your activities as a medical provider come to light, the blame will not be directed at the client but towards you,” he adds.

The power of the presidency also is in play here, says Marie Donoghue, from the advocacy group The Respect for Life Alliance.

“This year is the President Trump’s first opportunity to nominate a justice to the Supreme Court, a seat open since last February,” Donoghue says.

“It’s an opportunity for the President to really have a big impact on the judicial process. And you need more than just one vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. So, it would be very important for the President to make sure that he picks a young, pro-life nominee,” she adds.

The nomination requires Republican support in both houses of Congress, plus ratification by the Senate. But Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa says the issue is not about politics at all.

“It’s about protecting human life from conception until natural death,” Grassley said.

“We have spent a very long time giving states and the people of America some very specific standards for how to regulate the procedure of abortion. Those standards have always been there. What I am talking about is simply eliminating rules that have been on the books that are not consistent with these standards,” he adds.

Supporters of the new anti-abortion laws feel confident that they have the support of a solid majority of Americans and of Congress.

On Saturday, well over 15,000 protesters marked the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.

More protests are planned on Saturday as the anniversary approaches.

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