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

Fri Jul 24, 2009 - 12:15 pm EST

By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 24, 2009 ( - Pro-life and Catholic leaders have come out swinging against a bill offered by two pro-abortion House Democrats that deceptively proposes "common ground" on abortion, promoting policies to "reduce the need for abortion" that pro-life leaders say would actually lead to its increase.

The "Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act" (S.1032, H.R.2035) was introduced by Democrat Congressmen Tim Ryan and Rosa DeLauro this week.  First introduced in 2006, the bill purports to "reduce the need for abortion" by increasing funds for the Title X Family Planning Program, which funds Planned Parenthood, and set aside grants for explicit sex education. 

A Catholic who once held a pro-life record, Ryan has more recently begun voting in favor of abortion, including a recent vote supporting taxpayer funding for abortion in Washington, D.C.   According to executive director Kristen Day of Democrats for Life, Ryan was recently fired from the group's advisory board due to his increasingly pro-abortion voting record. 

Nonetheless, Ryan has been inaccurately touted as a pro-life sponsor to the bill, adding to its credibility as a compromise measure.  A press release connected to the legislation quoted Rev. Joel Hunter, an "antiabortion-rights evangelical pastor" on the White House Faith-Based Advisory Council, who praised the bill as "a prototype for how we can approach things in the future."  "When you realize you need someone who's been an adversary to help you advance your own projects, that's a big deal," said Hunter.

Pro-life advocates, however, have issued a sharp rebuttal to the "pro-life" tag attached to Ryan and his legislation.

"The lie that Tim Ryan is pro-life is very convenient for the true backers of [the bill]," said Jack Smith of the Catholic Key blog. 

Susan Willis of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' pro-life office roundly condemned Ryan's measure, which has won the support of Planned Parenthood and NARAL.  "It should be called the Planned Parenthood Economic Stimulus Package of 2009," wrote Willis.

The bill proposes not only to increase Title X funds, but also would make abortion and contraception a universal Medicaid requirement - a move that would revive some of the most troubling aspects of Obama's healthcare bill should it fail.

Ultimately, according to its sponsor, the bill is primarily geared toward increasing birth control access.  In discussing the legislation, Ryan told Chris Matthews of MSNBC's "Hardball" on May 19 that "we have to have birth control and contraception offered to these poor women who don't have access to contraception," and claimed, "there's no other way we're going to be able to reduce [abortions]."

However, international studies have found that greater access to contraception fails to reduce unintended pregnancies and abortions, and even leads to their increase. The causal relation is particularly evident in the U.K., where several studies have shown aggressive contraceptive and sex education campaigns have only led to a worsening of the country's teen pregnancy epidemic. Similarly, Swedish researcher Karin Edgardh found that despite the broad contraceptive availability and education in Sweden between 1995-2001, the country experienced a 33% increase in teen abortions. 

The surveys suggest that encouraging contraceptive use facilitates sexual promiscuity, which leads to higher pregnancy rates as contraceptives have a significant risk of failure, particularly with extended use.  Ultimately, abortion rates rise as a necessary fallback

NARAL, the most prominent pro-abortion lobby group in America, praised the Ryan-DeLauro bill as "reaching across the divide to find common-ground solutions to prevent unintended pregnancy."  "After the tragic murder of Dr. George Tiller at his church in Kansas, now more then ever, we challenge groups opposing legal abortion to put a stop to the inflammatory rhetoric and the use of violence, and instead to embrace a new and more responsible approach to the debate," they added.

Such calls to establish "common ground" on the abortion issue and "reduce the need for abortions" - rather than reducing abortions as such - have become the hallmark of pro-abortion lobby's and the Obama administration's dissembling on initiatives that expand abortion.

"The next sad chapter of the Obama 'common ground/abortion reduction' charade is ready to be written," wrote Catholic commentator Deal Hudson this week.  "For the Democrats and the White House to promote a health care bill that will cause the number of abortions to skyrocket, while whistling the common ground tune, is a tactical deception to appease Catholics, nothing less."

Earlier this week, Ryan and four other Democrats issued a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that called for a "common ground solution" to the abortion debate in the healthcare bill.

"We believe that a common ground solution is to include language in the final legislation that makes clear that no insurance company will be required to pay for an abortion except in extraordinary circumstances—nor will they be prohibited from paying for an abortion, so long as health insurance plans offered in the exchange that choose to provide abortion coverage pay for those services with funds that are separate and distinct from any federal subsidies," they wrote.  The letter did not mention excluding abortion from the government-funded healthcare plan.

The letter's content diverged significantly from a June 25 letter directed by 20 true pro-life Democrats demanding that House leaders both explicitly exclude abortion from the government's essential healthcare package, and not allow taxpayer monies to fund abortion. 

While deceptive tactics are being used by some in the Democratic Party, opposition to the healthcare bill's abortion mandate from the party's truly pro-life members may be the key to pro-life victory. Democrat Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan stated this week that there are at least 39 pro-life Democrats willing to buck enormous pressure from their own party and vote against the bill if the abortion mandate issue is not addressed. 

During the "Stop the Abortion Mandate" webcast Thursday, Congressmen Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Joe Pitts (R-PA) told pro-lifers not to be deceived by "fake amendments and deceptive language that will appear to be pro-life, but in fact will be empty promises."

"Some in Congress are now trying to cobble together a phony compromise on the abortion mandate and abortion funding," warned Smith.  "While we have yet to see the language, please be aware. 

"If past experience is any guide, if past is prologue, as it very often is, we need to be exceedingly wary and alert concerning bogus legislative language that purports to be pro-life.  Passing airtight language is paramount."

See related coverage:

Pro-Life Democrats Unite to Protect Unborn Children in Healthcare Restructuring

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