All through the election I told my pro-life friends to trust (then Senator) Obama when he said he wanted to reduce the number of abortions while keeping abortion legal. I'd been-there-done-that on realizing that the Republicans and pro-life camp have wasted close to forty years raising money and getting votes but changing nothing. Time for a new day.
As a former right wing pro-life leader, who, along with my late evangelical leader father Francis Schaeffer, and Dr. C Everett Koop did more than anyone to create the "pro-life" mood of intolerance and murder that recently led to Dr. Tillers killing, there is some good news -- at last! I'm feeling vindicated for my support of Obama who -- like me -- believes that abortion should be legal but that we should also work to find ways to help women keep their babies.
Congressman Tim Ryan (OH) and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT), are lead sponsors of the Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act, and will be joined by major pro-life and pro-choice leaders (Thursday, July 23), at a press conference announcing a unique new Obama-inspired approach to the abortion debate.
In the spirit of President Barack Obama's call to find common ground between the pro-choice and pro-life communities, Congressman Ryan, a pro-life Democrat and Congresswoman DeLauro, a pro-choice Democrat, have written legislation that presents concrete progress toward the shared goal of reducing the need for abortion by preventing unintended pregnancies and supporting pregnant women and families.
Representatives Ryan and DeLauro will be joined by supporters of the bill from across the abortion divide including Dr. Joel C. Hunter, Senior Pastor at Northland Church and board member of the World Evangelical Alliance and the National Association of Evangelicals, representatives from NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and Pastor Derrick Harkins of the Nineteenth Street Baptist Church and board member of World Relief, the humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals. These supporters are among dozens of prominent pro-choice and pro-life leaders from the religious community and the secular advocacy world who are united in their support for this bill.
(Who: Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-17) and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Pro-life and Pro-choice leaders What: Press conference on common ground and a concrete path forward on reducing the need for abortions Where: Speaker of the House Dining Room, The Capitol, Room H-122 When: This THURSDAY, July 23, 2009 at 11:30 AM Audio of event will be available on Rep. Ryan & Rep. DeLauro's websites after the event.)
Here's part of a summery (created by the "Third Way" group and kindly provided by Kristin Williams Media Relations Associate at the Faith in Public Life Foundation Washington, DC) of this bill: (For more information contact Ms. Williams at KWilliams@faithinpubliclife.org)
Grants for Teen Pregnancy Prevention Comprehensive Education: Grants for pregnancy prevention education will be given to programs that encourage teens to delay sexual activity, provide information about contraception, including the risks and benefits of contraceptives as a means to prevent pregnancy and STDs, educate teens on the responsibilities that come with parenthood, encourage family communication, and teach youth how to develop healthy relationships and make responsible decisions.
Support for After-School Programs: This section would reauthorize appropriations to various after-school programs, including the 21st Century Community Learning Centers, the Carol M. White Physical Education programs, Federal TRIO programs, and GEARUP.
Teen Pregnancy Prevention Incentive Grants: For fiscal year 2010, any state which submits a plan to decrease teen pregnancy that involves parents or other caretakers, includes both young men and young women, and pays special attention to communities or populations experiencing higher teen pregnancy rates, may receive a grant.
Grants to Encourage Creative Approaches to Teen Pregnancy Prevention: This grant program is designed to support creative approaches to reduce teen pregnancy. Grant recipients must provide a 25% match to the federal funds.
A National Initiative to Enlist Parents in Preventing Teen Pregnancy: Competitive grants will be available to establish a national initiative to support parents of teens. The initiative will work to equip parents with information and resources to promote and strengthen communication with their children about sex, values, and healthy relationships; to develop and implement print, broadcast, internet and other new media campaigns to promote positive information and messages for parents about how they can help address teen pregnancy; and to provide challenge grants to states to promote parent education and involvement.
Grants to Prevent Unplanned Pregnancy Among Community College Students: Community colleges will be eligible for demonstration grants to develop and implement innovative approaches to prevent unplanned pregnancy.
Restoration of Medicaid Entitlement to Coverage of Family Planning Services: The Deficit Reduction Act, now passed into law, puts countless low-income women's access to family planning at risk through the creation of "benchmark" plans. Benchmark plans allow states to avoid federal requirements for required services in the Medicaid program, one of which is family planning. This provision would ensure that low-income women on Medicaid will continue to have access to contraception by restoring family planning to the status of mandatory for benchmark plans under the Medicaid program.
Expanded Coverage of Family Planning under Medicaid for Low-Income Women: Federal law requires state Medicaid programs to cover pregnancy-related care for women with an income up to 133% of the federal poverty line, and gives states the flexibility to set the income ceiling even higher.
Increased Support for the Nation's Title X Family Planning Program: This section would authorize increased funding for Title X of the Public Health Service Act, the only federal program dedicated solely to providing contraceptive and related reproductive health care services to low-income women.
Expanded Medicaid and CHIP Coverage for Mothers and Children: This section provides states the option to expand postpartum care - from 60 days to one year - for pregnant women whose labor and delivery are covered by Medicaid and CHIP, increases the CHIP definition of a low-income child from 200% to 250% of federal poverty guidelines, and provides an outreach program to encourage those eligible for services to enroll.
Coverage of Maternity Care: This section would close the gap in coverage of pregnant women who have individual coverage with private insurers and both remove pregnancy as a pre-existing condition, and require coverage of maternity care.
Improved Access to Prenatal Ultrasounds: This section makes grants for the purchase of ultrasound equipment available to community health centers.
A Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention Program for Women: This section creates a new violence screening and treatment program for women.
Increased Support for Pregnant and Parenting Students: This section provides grants to educational institutions to provide support services to assist both pregnant students who have decided to carry their pregnancies to term and parenting students in continuing their studies and graduating.
Grants for a National Information Campaign on Adoption: This section provides grants to establish national information campaigns to educate the public about adoption, including foster care adoption.
Expanded Adoption Tax Credit Assistance: This section increases the adoption tax credit from $10,000 to $15,000 for all children and makes the credit refundable.
Now here is something that anyone who wants abortion to remain legal, and anyone who wants women to have a real choice should support. This bill gives the lie to the ideologues who make a living off perpetual culture war. This is a first (and terrific) step in bringing all Americans back together.
Sanity is about to break out!
Frank Schaeffer is the author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back and the forthcoming Patience With God: Faith For People Who Don't Like Religion (Or Atheism)