Apparently it wasn’t just the Ohio General Assembly that missed the message from women in 2012, but Republicans in Congress did too. Women sent a clear signal and overwhelmingly voted against Mitt Romney and Republicans with extreme views on abortion. But just a few weeks into the new Congress and we already have a slew of bills restricting women’s rights.
There are dueling bills that attempt to defund Planned Parenthood.
Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn) introduced HR 61. If HR 61 were to pass it would prevent the Department of Health and Human Services from providing federal funds to organizations, such as Planned Parenthood, that provide abortions. In order to receive funds an organization would have to prove that it no longer provided or referred abortions.
Representative Diane Black (R-Tenn) introduced a very similar bill, HR 217. This bill, the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act, and was introduced in the last Congress by former Representative Mike Pence (R-Ind). The bill has 48 co-sponsors and would prohibit family planning grants from going to organizations that provide abortions.
Apparently Congress thinks this is such an important issue that we need two bills that essentially accomplish the same thing. Never mind the more pressing issues facing Congress.
Ohio’s own Senator Rob Portman recently introduced The Child Custody Protection Act, which would make transporting a minor across a state line for an abortion a federal offense if it circumvents parental-involvement laws.
Kellie Copland of Ohio NARAL sums up the impact of this bill:
“It would “would prohibit anyone other than a parent—including a grandparent, aunt, adult sibling, or religious counselor—from accompanying a young woman across state lines for abortion care if the home state’s parental-involvement law has not been met.”
“Trusted, caring, and responsible adults would be faced with the threat of prosecution if they responded to a request for help from a young woman who believes she cannot involve her parents (perhaps because of abuse in the home). This would further isolate teenagers in need, leaving them without adult assistance or guidance,” Ms. Copeland said.”
Meanwhile the Violence Against Women Act, which was allowed to expire for the first time in the history of the legislation during the last Congress, was reintroduced. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) introduced S. 47. This version of the bill is nearly identically to the version from the last Congress, with a few minor changes to revenue generating provisions regarding protection for immigrant victims of violence. Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI) and Representative John Conyers, Jr (D-MI) introduced a companion version of the bill, HR 11, in the House. Hopefully Congress can act quickly to provide this important protection for women.
But don’t worry, not all of the action is at the Federal level. In fact we expect most the restrictions to women’s rights to occur in the states.
In New Mexico state Representative Cathrynn Brown introduced HB 206 which would charge a rape victim who chose to end her pregnancy with a third degree felony for “tampering with evidence.” The bill would essentially require rape victims to carry their fetus to term so that the fetus could be used as evidence. While Rep Brown claims that she introduced this bill to punish someone who commits incest or rape and then assists the victim in getting an abortion, the bill places the blame squarely on the victim. Fortunately, in New Mexico, Democrats have a majority in both chambers and the bill is unlikely to pass.