Pregnancy Assistance Fund: A Victory for Common Ground
In recent months, several anti-abortion groups have proven again that they are more interested in using the issue of abortion as a political weapon against pro-life Democratic Members of Congress than in promoting common-sense policies that support pregnant women and reduce the need for abortion.
In particular, the historic passage of health care reform – a major achievement that will save thousands of lives and improve the health of millions of Americans Â¬- riled the hornet’s nest of the religious right. As we’ve highlighted before, the Family Research Council Action PAC is targeting 20 pro-life Democrats with radio ads falsely claiming health care reform includes federal funding for abortion. Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser believes that no Democrat who supported health care reform can be called pro-life. Indiana Right to Life announced in April that they will no longer endorse any Democrats.
Against this disappointing and predictable backdrop, the Pregnancy Assistance Fund in the new health care law represents a true common-ground achievement. The fund, which the Department of Health and Human Service announced on Friday, provides $250 million over the next decade to help pregnant and parenting teens with child care, housing, education, parenting skills and services for those victimized by domestic or sexual violence. These programs will provide a critical network of support for vulnerable women who may see abortion as their only option. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania – a Catholic who has always linked his pro-life advocacy with a broader social justice agenda – deserves praise for shepherding these measures through the labyrinthine health care reform process and building support from pro-choice and pro-life leaders.
Decades of bitter divisions over abortion will not simply disappear with lofty appeals to common ground. Core convictions must be respected. Strong disagreements can’t be brushed aside. But most Americans want common-sense solutions that address the needs of women and families rather than exploiting abortion for partisan gain. Let’s hope the Pregnancy Assistance Fund is just the beginning for pro-choice and pro-life leaders more interested in real solutions than exploiting abortion politics as a “wedge issue” to win elections.