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Bernie Sanders on Abortion

Socialist Jr Senator; previously Representative (VT-At-Large)


Voted NO on restricting UN funding for population control policies.

Congressional Summary:To require that amounts appropriated for the United Nations Population Fund are not used by organizations which support coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.

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.

Reference: Wicker Amdt.; Bill S.Amdt.607 to H.R.1105 ; vote number 2009-S081 on Mar 5, 2009

Voted NO on defining unborn child as eligible for SCHIP.

CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: To require that legislation to reauthorize SCHIP include provisions codifying the unborn child regulation. Amends the definition of the term "targeted low-income child" to provide that such term includes the period from conception to birth, for eligibility for child health assistance.

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

Reference: Bill S.Amdt.4233 to S.Con.Res.70 ; vote number 08-S081 on Mar 14, 2008

Voted NO on prohibiting minors crossing state lines for abortion.

CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: To increase funding for the vigorous enforcement of a prohibition against taking minors across State lines in circumvention of laws requiring the involvement of parents in abortion decisions consistent with the Child Custody Protection Act.

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)

Reference: Bill S.Amdt.4335 to S.Con.Res.70 ; vote number 08-S071 on Mar 13, 2008

Voted NO on barring HHS grants to organizations that perform abortions.

Vote on an amendment, S.AMDT.3330, to H.R.3043 (HHS Appropriations Bill): To prohibit the provision of funds to grantees who perform abortions, with exceptions for maternal health.

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.

Reference: Vitter Amendment to HHS/Education/Labor Appropriations; Bill S.Amdt. 3330 to H.R. 3043 ; vote number 2007-379 on Oct 18, 2007

Voted YES on expanding research to more embryonic stem cell lines.

Allows federal funding for research that utilizes human embryonic stem cells, regardless of the date on which the stem cells were derived from a human embryo, provided such embryos:
  1. have been donated from in vitro fertilization clinics;
  2. were created for the purposes of fertility treatment;
  3. were in excess of the needs of the individuals seeking such treatment and would otherwise be discarded; and
  4. were donated by such individuals with written informed consent and without any financial or other inducements.

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

Reference: Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act; Bill S.5 & H.R.3 ; vote number 2007-127 on Apr 11, 2007

Voted YES on allowing human embryonic stem cell research.

To provide for human embryonic stem cell research. A YES vote would:
Reference: Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act; Bill HR 810 ; vote number 2005-204 on May 24, 2005

Voted NO on restricting interstate transport of minors to get abortions.

To prevent the transportation of minors in circumvention of certain laws relating to abortion, and for other purposes, including:
Reference: Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act; Bill HR 748 ; vote number 2005-144 on Apr 27, 2005

Voted NO on making it a crime to harm a fetus during another crime.

Vote to pass a bill that would make it a criminal offense to harm or kill a fetus during the commission of a violent crime. The measure would set criminal penalties, the same as those that would apply if harm or death happened to the pregnant woman, for those who harm a fetus. It is not required that the individual have prior knowledge of the pregnancy or intent to harm the fetus. This bill prohibits the death penalty from being imposed for such an offense. The bill states that its provisions should not be interpreted to apply a woman's actions with respect to her pregnancy.
Reference: Unborn Victims of Violence Act; Bill HR 1997 ; vote number 2004-31 on Feb 26, 2004

Voted NO on banning partial-birth abortion except to save mother’s life.

Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003: Vote to pass a bill banning a medical procedure, which is commonly known as "partial-birth" abortion. The procedure would be allowed only in cases in which a women's life is in danger, not for cases where a women's health is in danger. Those who performed this procedure, would face fines and up to two years in prison, the women to whom this procedure is performed on are not held criminally liable.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Santorum, R-PA; Bill S.3 ; vote number 2003-530 on Oct 2, 2003

Voted YES on forbidding human cloning for reproduction & medical research.

Vote to pass a bill that would forbid human cloning and punish violators with up to 10 years in prison and fines of at least $1 million. The bill would ban human cloning, and any attempts at human cloning, for both reproductive purposes and medical research. Also forbidden is the importing of cloned embryos or products made from them.
Reference: Human Cloning Prohibition Act; Bill HR 534 ; vote number 2003-39 on Feb 27, 2003

Voted NO on funding for health providers who don't provide abortion info.

Abortion Non-Discrimination Act of 2002: Vote to pass a bill that would prohibit the federal, state and local governments that receive federal funding from discriminating against health care providers, health insurers, health maintenance organizations, and any other kind of health care facility, organization or plan, that decline to refer patients for, pay for or provide abortion services. In addition the bill would expand an existing law "conscience clause" that protects physician training programs that refuse to provide training for abortion procedures.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Bilirakis, R-FL; Bill HR 4691 ; vote number 2002-412 on Sep 25, 2002

Voted NO on banning Family Planning funding in US aid abroad.

Vote to adopt an amendment that would remove language reversing President Bush's restrictions on funding to family planning groups that provide abortion services, counseling or advocacy.
Reference: Amendment sponsored by Hyde, R-IL; Bill HR 1646 ; vote number 2001-115 on May 16, 2001

Voted NO on banning partial-birth abortions.

HR 3660 would ban doctors from performing the abortion procedure called "dilation and extraction" [also known as “partial-birth” abortion]. The measure would allow the procedure only if the life of the woman is at risk.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Canady, R-FL; Bill HR 3660 ; vote number 2000-104 on Apr 5, 2000

Voted NO on barring transporting minors to get an abortion.

The Child Custody Protection Act makes it a federal crime to transport a minor across state lines for the purpose of obtaining an abortion.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Ros-Lehtinen, R-FL; Bill HR 1218 ; vote number 1999-261 on Jun 30, 1999

Rated 100% by NARAL, indicating a pro-choice voting record.

Sanders scores 100% by NARAL on pro-choice voting record

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.

Source: NARAL website 03n-NARAL on Dec 31, 2003

Emergency contraception for rape victims at all hospitals.

Sanders co-sponsored for emergency contraception for rape victims

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:

  1. accurate and unbiased information about emergency contraception;
  2. emergency contraception on her request; and
  3. does not deny any such services because of the inability of the woman to pay.

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.

Source: Compassionate Assistance for Rape Emergencies Act (S.3945) 06-S3945 on Sep 26, 2006

Rated 0% by the NRLC, indicating a pro-choice stance.

Sanders scores 0% by the NRLC on abortion issues

OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2006 NRLC scores as follows:

About the NRLC (from their website, www.nrlc.org):

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.

Source: NRLC website 06n-NRLC on Dec 31, 2006

Provide emergency contraception at military facilities.

Sanders co-sponsored providing emergency contraception at military facilities

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.

Source: Compassionate Care for Servicewomen Act (S.1800 & HR.2064) 07-HR2064 on Apr 26, 2007

Require pharmacies to fulfill contraceptive prescriptions.

Sanders signed Access to Birth Control Act

    Access to Birth Control Act: Amends the Public Health Service Act to require pharmacies to comply with certain rules related to contraceptives, including:
  1. providing a customer a contraceptive without delay if it is in stock;
  2. immediately informing a customer if the contraceptive is not in stock and either transferring the prescription to a pharmacy that has the contraceptive in stock or expediting the ordering of the contraceptive and notifying the customer when it arrives, based on customer preference, except for pharmacies that do not ordinarily stock contraceptives in the normal course of business; and
  3. ensuring that pharmacy employees do not take certain actions relating to a request for contraception, including intimidating, threatening, or harassing customers, interfering with or obstructing the delivery of services, intentionally misrepresenting or deceiving customers about the availability of contraception or its mechanism of action, breaching or threatening to breach medical confidentiality, or refusing to return a valid, lawful prescription.
Provides that this Act does not preempt state law or any professional clinical judgment. Sets forth civil penalties and establishes a a private cause of action for violations of this Act.
Source: HR2659&S1415 11-S1415 on Jul 26, 2011

Protect the reproductive rights of women.

Sanders co-sponsored protecting the reproductive rights of women