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Ted Kennedy on Abortion

Democratic Sr Senator (MA)


1987: "Robert Bork's America" forces back alley abortions

Ted Kennedy's immediate, blistering attack on Bork from the Senate floor: "Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists would be censored at the whim of government, and the doors of federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is often the only protector of the individual rights that are at the heart of our democracy." Kennedy's remarks, echoing the fears of special-interest groups, were the sort that Biden considered would put the confirmation of Bork on the wrong track. That approach, he wrote later, risked "quickly devolving to name-calling; Bork would be painted as a racist, a sexist and a tool of the rich and powerful. Even if those things were true, it was the worst strategy I could imagine, and one I wanted no part of."
Source: A Life of Trial & Redemption, by Jules Witcover, p.175 , Oct 5, 2010

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 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 NO on notifying parents of minors who get out-of-state abortions.

This bill prohibits taking minors across State lines in circumvention of laws requiring the involvement of parents in abortion decisions. Makes an exception for an abortion necessary to save the life of the minor. Authorizes any parent to sue unless such parent committed an act of incest with the minor. Imposes a fine and/or prison term of up to one year on a physician who performs an abortion on an out-of-state minor in violation of parental notification requirements in their home state.

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.

Reference: Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act; Bill S.403 ; vote number 2006-216 on Jul 25, 2006

Voted YES on $100M to reduce teen pregnancy by education & contraceptives.

Vote to adopt an amendment to the Senate's 2006 Fiscal Year Budget that allocates $100 million for the prevention of unintended pregnancies. A YES vote would expand access to preventive health care services that reduce unintended pregnancy (including teen pregnancy), reduce the number of abortions, and improve access to women's health care. A YES vote would:
Reference: Appropriation to expand access to preventive health care services; Bill S.Amdt. 244 to S Con Res 18 ; vote number 2005-75 on Mar 17, 2005

Voted NO on criminal penalty for harming unborn fetus during other crime.

Bill 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 S.1019/HR.1997 ; vote number 2004-63 on Mar 25, 2004

Voted NO on banning partial birth abortions except for maternal life.

S. 3 As Amended; Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. Vote to pass a bill banning a medical procedure, which is commonly known as "partial-birth" abortion. Those who performed this procedure would then face fines and up to two years in prison, the women to whom this procedure is performed on are not held criminally liable. This bill would make the exception for cases in which a women's life is in danger, not for cases where a women's health is in danger.
Reference: Bill S.3 ; vote number 2003-51 on Mar 12, 2003

Voted NO on maintaining ban on Military Base Abortions.

Vote on a motion to table [kill] an amendment that would repeal the ban on privately funded abortions at overseas military facilities.
Reference: Bill S 2549 ; vote number 2000-134 on Jun 20, 2000

Voted NO on banning partial birth abortions.

This legislation, if enacted, would ban the abortion procedure in which the physician partially delivers the fetus before completing the abortion. [A NO vote supports abortion rights].
Status: Bill Passed Y)63; N)34; NV)3
Reference: Partial Birth Abortion Ban; Bill S. 1692 ; vote number 1999-340 on Oct 21, 1999

Voted NO on banning human cloning.

This cloture motion was in order to end debate and move to consideration of legislation banning human cloning. [A YES vote opposes human cloning].
Status: Cloture Motion Rejected Y)42; N)54; NV)4
Reference: Motion to invoke cloture on motion to proceed to S. 1601; Bill S. 1601 ; vote number 1998-10 on Feb 11, 1998

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

Kennedy 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

Expand embryonic stem cell research.

Kennedy signed a letter from 58 Senators to the President

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:

We would very much like to work with you to modify the current embryonic stem cell policy so that it provides this area of research the greatest opportunity to lead to the treatments and cures for which we are all hoping.
Source: Letter from 58 Senators to the President 04-SEN8 on Jun 4, 2004

Sponsored bill for emergency contraception for rape victims.

Kennedy introduced 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.

Kennedy 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

Protect the reproductive rights of women.

Kennedy co-sponsored protecting the reproductive rights of women