By Nat Nentoff
President Obama has reneged on an increasing number of his pledges on taking
office - from guaranteeing a transparent, accountable administration to ending
CIA "renditions" of suspects to foreign nations known for torture. Now, however,
he has a golden chance to fulfill his often-repeated goal of achieving a "common
ground" in the abortion wars.
Two pro-life Democrats - Congressman Lincoln Davis of Tennessee and Sen. Bob
Casey of Pennsylvania - have introduced the Pregnant Women Support Act (HR 2035
in the House, S 2407 in the Senate). As Davis says, "It's not about pro-life or
pro-choice." It's about "what we can do to bring a reduction to abortions."
To begin, as the Associated Press reported (March 25): "For many Americans,
the recession is affecting the most intimate decisions about family
planning...Planned Parenthood of Illinois clinics performed an all-time high
number of abortions in January, many of them motivated by the women's economic
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Before this year, Davis has emphasized: "Of the 1.29 million abortions
performed annually, 73 percent of women seeking abortions list economic factors
as contributing to the decision to have an abortion."
Accordingly, as Davis reports (Johnson City Press, Feb. 19), the Pregnant
Women Support Act would "Repeal the sunset on adoption tax credits and make them
permanent ... fully Fund Federal WIC Program. Special Nutrition for Women,
Infants and Children (WIC) ... and increase funding for domestic violence
programs" (the latter violence against women often spurring abortions).
This literally life-saving legislation, in vital need of support from the
president, would also end the denial to pregnant women of health care from
insurance companies because of "pre-existing conditions."
Says Lincoln Davis: "A child is not a cancer. A child is not a heart attack.
It's not diabetes. A child is a human being and is not a disease."
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Like Davis, Bob Casey, an Obama campaign supporter, has reintroduced the
Pregnant Women Support Act in the current Senate in the belief that "we can
transform this debate by focusing on issues that united us, not the issues that
His list of what the bill actually contains is too long for the space I have,
but here are sections that provide a crucial challenge to both pro-lifers and
pro-choicers to focus their passions on real-life, real-time common ground.
The Pregnant Women Support Act, Casey notes, "creates a new pilot program for
'Life Support Centers' to offer comprehensive and supportive services for
pregnant women, mothers and children.
"Establishes a national toll-free number and public awareness campaign to
offer women support and knowledge about options and resources available to them
when they face an unplanned pregnancy."
And listen to this, Mr. President: "Establish nurse home visitation for
pregnant and first time mothers as an eligible benefit under Medicaid and SCHIP.
One example of this is the Nurse-Family Partnership, an evidence-based program
and national model in which nurses mentor young first-time and primarily
low-income mothers, establishing a supportive relationship with both mother and
"Studies have shown this program to be both cost effective and hugely
successful in terms of life outcomes for both mothers and children."
Two additional parts of the Pregnant Women Support Act address mounting
concerns. It will "assist pregnant and parenting teens to finish high school and
prepare for college or vocational training" - and will "help pregnant college
students stay in school, offering them counseling as well as assistance with
continuing their education, parenting support and classes, and child care
Last year, during a crescendo in the abortion wars, Davis said (The
Tennessean, Sept. 12, 2008): "People get angry and they scream and shout...and
nothing gets done for the people we all say we care about. If we can pass this
bill and get it implemented across the country, I believe we can dramatically
reduce the number of abortions."
That same newspaper story told of 28-year-old Michelle Smith working two jobs
while a full-time student at Volunteer State Community College, and deciding to
have an abortion for economic reasons. But, at a Nashville Agency, Hope Clinic,
for young women confronting unplanned abortions, she was given a pregnancy test
and a sonogram.
"Once I saw my daughter's face," Michelle Smith said, "I knew I didn't want
to have an abortion." (Note: The Pregnant Women Support Act would "give women
free sonogram examinations by providing grants for the purchase of ultrasound
As of this writing, Obama has given no indication that he will back the
Pregnant Women Support Act. If you really believe in reducing pregnancies,
stiffen your back, Mr. President.
Now a parent of a lively 2-year-old, Michelle Smith says: "She never ceases
to amaze me." That happens to me every time I see my newest grandchild,
4-year-old Ruby Hentoff.