Issue Position: Finding Common Ground on Reproductive Rights
As a Member of Congress, I believe it is critically important that privacy rights involving reproduction and contraception be preserved under the law. On the issue of abortion, which has so divided our country, I support a woman's right to make her own decisions when it comes to her reproductive health. I believe that it would be a terrible mistake for our country if we turned the clock back to a time when all abortions were illegal, thereby turning women and their doctors into criminals. What makes sense to me is that we ensure that abortions in our country are safe, legal, and rare - meaning that we ought to preserve the right of women to make this difficult choice, but can surely do more to provide better reproductive health services to families so that unwanted pregnancies are rarer and abortions rarer still.
I believe that it is possible for communities divided by this emotional and controversial issue to find common ground and work together to decrease the number of abortions in America. That is why I have cosponsored the Reducing the Need for Abortions and Supporting Parents Act (HR 1074). This legislation would create programs to prevent teen pregnancy, expand Medicaid eligibility for family planning services, and expand adoption programs. The bill aims to reduce the abortion rate by preventing unintended pregnancies, supporting pregnant women, and assisting new parents. This is a consensus bill focused on the need to reduce abortion, while also providing supports for new parents to strengthen their families. It represents new terrain on this issue. And it moves beyond discourse about the legalization of abortion and toward doing something to reduce the rate of abortion. It is strong on prevention and contraception and strong on family support.
I believe it is also important to support programs aimed at improving access to quality health care and education about contraception and the choices involved with family planning, and am a cosponsor of the Prevention First Act of 2007 (HR 819), which includes provisions to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives and to increase funding for Title X clinics that offer family planning services for women. The legislation also provides funding for basic health care services such as breast exams, pelvic exams, and pap smearsall critical components in maintaining reproductive health.
Education is also imperative to prevent unwanted pregnancies and to help women make informed decisions. I support legislation and other efforts at home and in the international arena to provide comprehensive sex education, which includes information about the importance of abstinence before marriage, basic and emergency contraception, and the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases.
Family planning clinics need to continue to provide information on all of the options available to women who are pregnant, including adoption. These policies - improving access to health care and providing better reproductive health education - can help us all find common ground to reduce the number of abortions that occur in our country.