September 7, 2007
Pro-Choice Senators Score Victory, Repeal Global Gag Rule
A message from Donna Crane, director of government relations, NARAL Pro-Choice
I know, I know, the wonderful activists who get our email alerts see these two words probably more than any others. For those of us who work at NARAL Pro-Choice America, we repeat this mantra in our sleep.
But…let’s look closely at two recent choice-related votes in the U.S. Senate. Although they were part of larger bills and didn’t grab the headlines in major media, a quick analysis delivers a clear verdict: Elections do matter.
No, I swear. They do. I have evidence. Read with me here.
Let’s start with last night. The Senate approved by a vote of 53 to 41 an amendment to the foreign aid bill written by Sens. Barbara Boxer and Olympia Snowe that repeals the indefensible global gag rule.
Read more about the global gag rule and its harmful effects on the world’s poorest women. (Contrary to what Sam Brownback says, U.S. funds do not pay for abortion-related services.)
In the past, we have won similar votes in the Senate, but by much smaller margins.
Well, for example, pro-choice Sens. Sherrod Brown (OH), Claire McCaskill (MO), and Jon Tester (MT), all defeated anti-choice incumbents in the 2006 elections who had voted against repealing the gag rule in the past.
See, pro-choice electoral victories lead to pro-choice gains in the legislative process.
That’s good, right? Well, I have another one for you. Let’s go back to early August—right before the Senate left for its month-long break.
Anti-choice senators offered an amendment to the children’s health bill to codify in law a controversial Bush administration regulation, put in place in 2002, which allows states to make an embryo or a fetus – but not a pregnant woman – eligible for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).
We won—by one vote. Who made the difference?
Remember our pro-choice gains in Missouri, Montana, and Ohio. Sen. James Webb of Virginia (who replaced anti-choice former Sen. George Allen) voted pro-choice, too.
Convinced? I hope so.
Now, I must warn you that I am about to get wonky here: Both bills I referenced here now go to a House-Senate conference committee, where a few members from each chamber will work out differences between the bills, and present a final compromise version that must be approved by both the House and the Senate. Jeez, that was a mouthful.
Even though we won these key votes described above, President Bush has already threatened to veto any bill that includes a pro-choice provision (that means the repeal of the global gag rule). He also wants to veto the children’s health bill (seriously, I am so way past over him).
So, after all these gains in Congress, President Bush can still veto bills and stop progress.
Yeah, there was something I was going to say here. What was it?
Oh yeah…elections matter.
Special shout out: Thank you so much for hanging in there to read this. If you were one of our thousands of activists who took action on these two choice-related issues, thank you, thank you, thank you. These wins are YOURS. It makes such a huge difference when members of Congress get your calls and email messages.
Posted by Bush v. Choice at September 7, 2007 1:50 PM