John Kerry on Abortion
Jr Senator (MA), Democratic nominee for President
By 2004, Democrats had concluded that stem cell research was a political winner. Kerry campaigned hard on the issue. Kerry frequently criticized what he called a "ban" on embryonic stem cell research. I pointed out that there was no such ban. To the contrary, I was the first president in history to fund embryonic stem cell research. Plus, there were no restrictions on funding from the private sector.
Nonetheless, Kerry's campaign used stem cell research as the foundation for a broader attack, labeling my positions "anti-science." The charge is false. I had supported science by funding alternative stem cell research.
MODERATOR: Kerry claims that you had never said whether you would like to overturn Roe v. Wade. Would you?
BUSH: What heís asking me is, will I have a litmus test for my judges? And the answer is, no, I will not have a litmus test. I will pick judges who will interpret the Constitution, but Iíll have no litmus test.
KERRY: The president didnít answer the question. Iíll answer it straight to America. Iím not going to appoint a judge to the Court whoís going to undo a constitutional right, whether itís the 1st Amendment, or the 5th Amendment, or some other right thatís given under our Constitution. And I believe that the right of choice is a constitutional right. I donít intend to see it undone. Clearly, the president wants to leave in ambivalence or intends to undo it.
A: I completely respect their views. I am a Catholic. And I grew up learning how to respect those views. But I disagree with them, as do many. I canít legislate or transfer to another American citizen my article of faith. What is an article of faith for me is not something that I can legislate on somebody who doesnít share that article of faith. I believe that choice is a womanís choice. Itís between a woman, God and her doctor. Thatís why I support that. I will not allow somebody to come in and change Roe v. Wade.
A: I really respect the feeling thatís in your question. I understand it. I know the morality thatís prompting that question, and I respect it enormously. Chris Reeve is a friend of mine. Chris Reeve exercises every single day to keep those muscles alive for the day when he believes he can walk again, and I want him to walk again. I think we can save lives. Now, I think we can do ethically guided embryonic stem cell research. We have 100,000 to 200,000 embryos that are frozen in nitrogen today from fertility clinics. These werenít taken from abortion or something like that, theyíre from a fertility clinic, and theyíre either going to be destroyed or left frozen. It is respecting life to reach for that cure. It is respecting life to do it in an ethical way. Bushís chosen a policy that makes it impossible for our scientists to do that. I want the future, and I think we have to grab it.
A: I donít believe we need a good conservative judge and I donít believe we need a good liberal judge. I donít believe we need a good judge of that kind of definition on either side. The mark of a good judge, is when youíre reading their decision, their opinion, you canít tell if itís written by a man or a woman, a liberal or a conservative, a Muslim, a Jew, or a Christian. You just know youíre reading a good judicial decision. The future of things that matter to you in terms of civil rights; what kind of Justice Department youíll have; whether weíll enforce the law; will we have equal opportunity; will womenís rights be protected; will be have equal pay for women, which is going backwards; will a womanís right to choose be protected? These are constitutional rights, and I want to make sure we have judges who interpret the Constitution according to the law.
A: I cannot tell you how deeply I respect the belief about life and when it begins. Iím a Catholic. Raised a Catholic I was an altar boy. Religion has been a huge part of my life. Helped lead me through a war. Leads me today. I canít take what is an article of faith for me and legislate it for someone who doesnít share that article of faith. But I can counsel people. I can talk reasonably about life and about responsibility. But as a president, I have to represent all the people in the nation and I have to make that judgment. You can take that position and not be pro-abortion, but you have to afford people their constitutional rights. And that means being smart about allowing people to be fully educated, to know what their options are in life, and making certain that you donít deny a poor person the right to be able to have whatever the Constitution affords them
KERRY: Bush says heís allowed it, which means heís going to allow the destruction of life up to a certain amount, and then he isnít going to allow it. But let me tell you point blank, the lines of stem cells that heís made available, every scientist in the country will tell you, not adequate, because theyíre contaminated by mouse cells, and because there arenít 60 or 70; there are only about 11 to 20 now, and there arenít enough to be able to do the research because theyíre contaminated.
A spokesperson said that although Kerry has often said abortion should be ďsafe, legal and rare,Ē and that his religion shapes that view, she could not recall him ever publicly discussing when life begins. ďI canít take my Catholic belief, my article of faith, and legislate it on a Protestant or a Jew or an atheist,Ē he continued in the interview. ďWe have separation of church and state in the US.ď
President Bushís campaign spokesman said these instances are further evidence of what it says is Kerryís propensity for misleading flip-flops. ĒJohn Kerryís ridiculous claim to hold conservative values and his willingness to change his beliefs to fit his audience betrays a startling lack of conviction on important issues like abortion that will make it difficult for voters to give him their trust.ď
A: I donít support the Presidentís law because it doesnít allow the exception for situations where the health of the woman is at risk. I believe this is a dangerous effort to undermine a womanís right to choose, which is a constitutional amendment I will always fight to protect.
CNN FACT CHECK:Kerry voted against the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (H.R. 1997), which recognized a fetus as a second victim if injured or killed when a violent act is committed against the pregnant mother. This legislation was seen as an extension of the abortion debate, with abortion-rights supporters opposing the legislation, and abortion-rights opponents in favor. Abortion-rights supporters said the legislation was a back-door attempt to chip away at the legality of abortions by extending legal protection to unborn fetuses. Proponents of the bill referred to this as ďthe Laci Peterson law,Ē as did the Bush campaign. The Kerry campaign said that Kerry ďstrongly supports making it a federal crime to commit an act of violence against a pregnant woman,Ē but added that a law could be crafted ďwithout undermining a womanís right to choose.Ē
BUSH: Well, itís pretty simple when they say, ďAre you for a ban on partial-birth abortion, yes or no?Ē And he was given a chance to vote, and he voted no. And thatís just the way it is. Thatís a vote. It came right up. Itís clear for everybody to see. And as I said, you can run, but you canít hide. Itís the reality.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Sen. WICKER (R-MS): This amendment with one issue and one issue only--whether US taxpayer dollars will be provided to help fund coercive population control policies, such as China's one-child policy--a policy that relies on coerced abortion and forced sterilization. Specifically, this pro-child, pro-family, pro-woman amendment would restore the Kemp-Kasten antipopulation control provision, which has been a fundamental part of our foreign policy for almost a quarter century. As it has always done, Kemp-Kasten allows the President to certify that funds are not used for coercive family practices. My amendment is needed because the underlying bill reverses this longstanding provision.
Sen. COBURN (R-OK): I stand in the corner of pro-life. But I want to debate this issue as if I were pro-choice. If we believe that women have a right to choose, why in the world would we send money to UNFP that is going to take that right away from women in other countries? You can't be on both sides of this issue. Either you believe in a woman's right to choose or you do not. Or you only believe in a woman's right to choose in America, and because the Chinese have too many people, you don't think that same human right ought to be given to women in China. There is no question that UNFP will mix this money, and we will fund forced abortions in China. [Without this amendment] American taxpayer dollars are going to go to China to enforce coercive abortion against the will of women and force sterilization against the will of women in China.
Opponent's argument to vote No:None spoke against the amendment.
SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Sen. ALLARD: This amendment will codify the current unborn child rule by amending the SCHIP reauthorization reserve fund. This amendment will clarify in statute that the term "child" includes the period from conception to birth. This is a pro-life vote.OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO: Sen. FEINSTEIN: We already clarified SCHIP law that a pregnant woman's coverage under SCHIP law is optional. We made it obligatory so every pregnant woman has the advantage of medical insurance. This amendment undoes that. It takes it away from the woman and gives it to the fetus. Now, if a pregnant woman is in an accident, loses the child, she does not get coverage, the child gets coverage. We already solved the problem. If you cover the pregnant woman, you cover her fetus. What Senator Allard does is remove the coverage from the pregnant woman and cover the fetus.LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Amendment rejected, 46-52
SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Sen. ENSIGN: This amendment enables enforcing the Child Custody Protection Act, which passed the Senate in a bipartisan fashion by a vote of 65 to 34. Too many times we enact laws, and we do not fund them. This is going to set up funding so the law that says we are going to protect young children from being taken across State lines to have a surgical abortion--we are going to make sure those people are protected. OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Sen. BOXER: We already voted for $50 million to enhance the enforcement of child protective laws. If Sen. Ensign's bill becomes law, then that money is already there to be used for such a program. LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Amendment rejected, 49-49 (1/2 required, or 50 votes; Sen. Byrd & Sen. McCain absent)
Proponents support voting YES because:
Sen. VITTER: Whatever side of the abortion debate you are on, we can all agree on one thing: Abortion is a very divisive topic. In that context, I think it is the right policy to say we are not going to send taxpayer dollars to support groups that perform abortions. Now, the other side will say: Well, we have current Federal law that says we are not going to use taxpayer dollars to fund abortions. But, quite frankly, that is not good enough. Because now, we send Federal dollars to abortion providers and money is fungible--it is a big shell game and it supports their organizations and, in many cases, that funding is a huge percentage of their overall revenue.
Letter of Support from Family Research Council:
Recent reports indicate that Planned Parenthood generated over $900 million in income in 2006, of which over $300 million came from government. We should not be sending taxpayer money to an organization such as Planned Parenthood that performs abortions. Your support for the Vitter amendment will uphold the principle that the US taxpayer should not have to subsidize the abortion industry.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Sen. BOXER: The Vitter amendment is "Big Brother" at its very worst. It tells non-governmental entities how they should spend their own private funds. This amendment punishes the very organizations that work hard every day using their own funds to provide family planning services and reproductive health care, including legal abortion services. If Sen. Vitter wants to deny these funds, he should work to outlaw all abortion. That is an honest way. But to punish a private organization that works to give women a full array of reproductive health care is really, I think, a very sorry idea.
Proponents support voting YES because:
Since 2 years ago, the last Stem Cell bill, public support has surged for stem cells. Research is proceeding unfettered and, in some cases, without ethical standards in other countries. And even when these countries have ethical standards, our failures are allowing them to gain the scientific edge over the US. Some suggest that it is Congress' role to tell researchers what kinds of cells to use. I suggest we are not the arbiters of research. Instead, we should foster all of these methods, and we should adequately fund and have ethical oversight over all ethical stem cell research.
Opponents support voting NO because:
A good deal has changed in the world of science. Amniotic fluid stem cells are now available to open a broad new area of research. I think the American people would welcome us having a hearing to understand more about this promising new area of science. As it stands today, we will simply have to debate the bill on the merits of information that is well over 2 years old, and I think that is unfortunate.
The recent findings of the pluripotent epithelial cells demonstrates how quickly the world has changed. Wouldn't it be nice to have the researcher before our committee and be able to ask those questions so we may make the best possible judgment for the American people?
Status: Vetoed by Pres. Bush Bill passed, 63-34
Proponents recommend voting YES because:
This bill deals with how young girls are being secretly taken across State lines for the purpose of abortion, without the consent of their parents or even the knowledge of their parents, in violation of the laws of the State in which they live. 45 states have enacted some sort of parental consent laws or parental notification law. By simply secreting a child across State lines, one can frustrate the State legislature's rules. It is subverting and defeating valid, constitutionally approved rights parents have.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Some States have parental consent laws, some don't. In my particular State, it has been voted down because my people feel that if you ask them, "Do they want their kids to come to their parents?", absolutely. But if you ask them, "Should you force them to do so, even in circumstances where there could be trouble that comes from that?", they say no.
This bill emanates from a desire that our children come to us when we have family matters, when our children are in trouble, that they not be fearful, that they not be afraid that they disappoint us, that they be open with us and loving toward us, and we toward them. This is what we want to have happen. The question is: Can Big Brother Federal Government force this on our families? That is where we will differ.
For over thirty years, NARAL Pro-Choice America has been the political arm of the pro-choice movement and a strong advocate of reproductive freedom and choice. NARAL Pro-Choice America's mission is to protect and preserve the right to choose while promoting policies and programs that improve women's health and make abortion less necessary. NARAL Pro-Choice America works to educate Americans and officeholders about reproductive rights and health issues and elect pro-choice candidates at all levels of government. The NARAL ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
Dear Mr. President:
We write to urge you to expand the current federal policy concerning embryonic stem cell research.
Embryonic stem cells have the potential to be used to treat and better understand deadly and disabling diseases and conditions that affect more than 100 million Americans, such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, and many others.
We appreciate your words of support for the enormous potential of this research, and we know that you intended your policy to help promote this research to its fullest. As you know, the Administration's policy limits federal funding only to embryonic stem cells that were derived by August 9, 2001.
However, scientists have told us that since the policy went into effect more than two years ago, we have learned that the embryonic stem cell lines eligible for federal funding will not be suitable to effectively promote this research. We therefore feel it is essential to relax the restrictions in the current policy for this research to be fully explored.
Among the difficult challenges with the current policy are the following:
OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: Amends Medicaid to:
EXCERPTS OF BILL:
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to Senate Committee on Finance; never came to a vote.
OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: Prohibits any federal funds from being provided to a hospital unless the hospital provides to women who are victims of sexual assault:
SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: Sen. CLINTON: This bill will help sexual assault survivors across the country get the medical care they need and deserve. It is hard to argue against this commonsense legislation. Rape--by definition--could never result in an intended pregnancy. Emergency contraception is a valuable tool that can prevent unintended pregnancy. This bill makes emergency contraception available for survivors of sexual assault at any hospital receiving public funds.
Every 2 minutes, a woman is sexually assaulted in the US, and each year, 25,000 to 32,000 women become pregnant as a result of rape or incest. 50% of those pregnancies end in abortion.
By providing access to emergency contraception, up to 95% of those unintended pregnancies could be prevented if emergency contraception is administered within the first 24 to 72 hours. In addition, emergency contraception could also give desperately needed peace of mind to women in crisis.
The FDA recently made EC available over the counter for women 18 years of age and older. Despite the ideologically driven agenda against this drug, the research has been consistently clear--this drug is safe and effective for preventing pregnancy. Women deserve access to EC. For millions of women, it represents peace of mind. For survivors of rape and sexual assault, it offers hope for healing and a tomorrow free of painful reminders of the past.
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; never came to a vote.
OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2006 NRLC scores as follows:
The ultimate goal of the National Right to Life Committee is to restore legal protection to innocent human life. The primary interest of the National Right to Life Committee and its members has been the abortion controversy; however, it is also concerned with related matters of medical ethics which relate to the right to life issues of euthanasia and infanticide. The Committee does not have a position on issues such as contraception, sex education, capital punishment, and national defense. The National Right to Life Committee was founded in 1973 in response to the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision, legalizing the practice of human abortion in all 50 states, throughout the entire nine months of pregnancy.
The NRLC has been instrumental in achieving a number of legislative reforms at the national level, including a ban on non-therapeutic experimentation of unborn and newborn babies, a federal conscience clause guaranteeing medical personnel the right to refuse to participate in abortion procedures, and various amendments to appropriations bills which prohibit (or limit) the use of federal funds to subsidize or promote abortions in the United States and overseas.
In addition to maintaining a lobbying presence at the federal level, NRLC serves as a clearinghouse of information for its state affiliates and local chapters, its individual members, the press, and the public.
Requires emergency contraception to be included on the basic core formulary of the uniform formulary of pharmaceutical agents for the pharmacy benefits program of the Department of Defense.
Introductory statement by Sponsor:
Sen. CLINTON: Last year, the FDA made emergency contraception available over-the-counter for women 18 years of age and older. Research shows that emergency contraception is safe and effective for preventing pregnancy. More than 70 major medical organizations, including the America Academy of Pediatrics, recommended that Plan B be made available over-the-counter.
Women deserve access to this medically approved drug and our servicewomen are no different. By providing access to emergency contraception, up to 95% of those unintended pregnancies could be prevented if emergency contraception is administered within the first 24 to 72 hours. For survivors of rape and incest, emergency contraception offers hope for healing.
Current Department of Defense policy allows emergency contraception to be available at military health care facilities. Currently, it is available at some facilities, but not others. The Compassionate Care for Servicewomen Act would simply ensure broader access by including emergency contraception on the basic core formulary, BCF, a list of medications stocked at all military health care facilities.
There is a real need for this legislation. According to the Pentagon, the number of reported sexual assaults in the military increased approximately 24% in 2006 to nearly 3,000. We have reports from women & health providers in the military who have sought emergency contraception on an emergency basis and have been unable to obtain it quickly enough.
Ensuring that emergency contraception is more broadly available at military health care facilities is a fair, commonsense step that everyone should be able to agree on. It is my sincere hope that my colleagues join me in supporting this important legislation.
A bill to expand access to preventive health care services that help reduce unintended pregnancy, reduce abortions, and improve access to women's health care. The Congress finds as follows:
At-Risk Communities Teen Pregnancy Prevention Act: to award grants for teenage pregnancy prevention programs & prevention research.
SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS:
Sen. FRANKEN: The Compassionate Care for Servicewomen Act is a straightforward but vital piece of legislation. It would ensure that servicewomen in our military have reliable and timely access to emergency contraception when they need it.
Emergency contraception, or Plan B as it is more commonly known under its brand name, is Food and Drug Administration-approved medication that prevents pregnancy. It is safe and, if taken shortly after pregnancy, highly effective. Since 2006, the FDA has approved it for over-the-counter sale. Currently, women 17 years old and older may purchase emergency contraception over the counter, while those younger require a prescription. Emergency contraception is widely available at pharmacies throughout the U.S. The problem this legislation is meant to address is that there's no guarantee that emergency contraception be available to our servicewomen in the military. Immediate accessibility is especially important in the case of emergency contraception because it is only effective if taken within a short window of time. Once a pregnancy is established, it doesn't work. The fact that more than 2,900 sexual assaults were reported last year in the military only heightens the need to ensure emergency contraception is always available.
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