By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 12, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The executive director of the Catholic social justice lobby NETWORK and other left-leaning Catholic groups have heaped praise on a bill issued by two pro-abortion legislators that, while touted as a "common ground" measure, would both pour more federal funding into Planned Parenthood and mandate abortion coverage in state medical assistance programs.

The "Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act" was introduced in the House July 23 by Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, both of whom have anti-life voting records.  The bill has been condemned by the USCCB pro-life office as a "Planned Parenthood Economic Stimulus Plan."

While containing some provisions to expand care for women with crisis pregnancies, the bill proposes to channel $700 million to Title X "family planning" funding, which heavily funds Planned Parenthood.  It also makes "family planning services" a mandatory Medicaid entitlement in all 50 states, and expands Medicaid family planning eligibility to all women eligible under state law for prenatal care.

NETWORK's Sr. Simone Campbell, a Sister of Social Service, said that the legislation "gives me hope that we can finally begin to move beyond using pregnancy as a political wedge issue and to focus instead on providing women and families with the resources they need for healthy pregnancies and babies."

"It is time to work together to eliminate political posturing on this issue," she added.  Catholics United for the Common Good and the National Coalition of American Nuns also supported the bill, according to a report by the Baltimore Archdiocesan newspaper the Catholic Review. 

DeLauro, one of the bill's sponsors, has a 100% pro-abortion rating from NARAL. The bill's second sponsor, Tim Ryan, has been billed as a "pro-life" supporter for the bill, but has recently accrued a steadily pro-abortion voting record.  While once known as a pro-life lawmaker, in the latest cycle, Ryan was awarded a 0% pro-life voting record by the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC).  NRLC legislative director Douglas Johnson described Ryan as a representative who "poses as a pro-life lawmaker for purposes of undercutting genuine pro-life efforts."

Both Planned Parenthood and NARAL have also thrown their weight behind the bill. 

When the legislation came to light in late July, Susan Wills, an assistant director within the U.S. Bishops' Pro-Life Office, called it "the Planned Parent Economic Stimulus Package of 2009."

As Wills pointed out, and as Ryan said in an interview on MSNBC's "Hardball" in May, the bill relies on contraception to "reduce" abortions, rather than actually restricting the abortion procedure.  Ryan's own bishop, Youngstown's Bishop George Murray, released a statement last week opposing the bill and its reliance on contraception - which is forbidden by the Catholic Church - as a supposed means of reducing abortion.

"This act is based on the mistaken belief that greater access to contraception reduces abortions and, in addition, some contraceptives may have an abortifacient effect," said Bishop Murry. Murry noted that numerous studies have shown that taxpayer support of contraception does not reduce unintended pregnancies and abortions. 

The bishop's conclusion is also supported by the skyrocketing teen pregnancy and abortion rates in countries such as the U.K. and Sweden, where governments have vastly expanded contraception distribution programs.

Pro-life leaders also warn that the bill, if passed, would force all 50 states to fund abortions in state medical assistance programs.

Americans United for Life (AUL) pointed out a provision of the Ryan-DeLauro bill (HR 3312) in Title VII, section 107, mandating that states provide abortion in their medical assistance programs.

This provision, said AUL, would be a radical extension of federally mandated taxpayer funding of abortion, and an unprecedented mandate that states cover abortion in state medical assistance programs.

"Planned Parenthood and NARAL wouldn't back a so-called 'common ground' bill unless it included abortion services," said AUL President and CEO Dr. Charmaine Yoest. "Efforts to paint this bill as 'pro-life,' are deceptive."

Late last month, Sr. Campbell also threw her weight behind immediate health care reform and complained that enacting reform legislation was being delayed by "insignificant details."  Pro-life leaders have been raising the alarm on the current health care bills as they are set to vastly expand abortion, in addition to several other troubling aspects.
See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:

Pro-Life Groups Warn: Ryan-DeLauro "Common Ground" Bill a Red Herring

Prominent Nun Ridicules Healthcare Vote Delay over "Insignificant Details"