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Issue Position: Judiciary Issues - A Women's Right to Choose

Issue Position

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I have been committed to protecting the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade by maintaining a 100 percent pro-choice voting record. I believe that the decision to have an abortion is between a woman and her doctor, not the government. I support abortions that are rare, safe, and legal. And, we must ensure that those men and women who provide these services are protected from violence and intimidation.

In May 2004, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) imposed further restrictions on woman's reproductive rights. Acting as a political agency for the Bush administration, they refused to make emergency contraceptives -- popularly known as the morning-after pill -- available over the counter. This decision was made in direct contradiction to the agency's own experts' recommendation that the pill was both safe and effective. The experts additionally found that giving it over-the-counter status would prevent thousands of abortions each year and would greatly reduce unintended and unwanted pregnancies.

I have also voted against the 2003 law that banned "partial-birth abortion" because these abortions are rarely performed and only in cases of fatal fetal anomalies or threat to the life of the mother. In this tragic circumstance, this procedure is for many women the safest medical option and the best hope to save the life and future fertility of the mother. The so called "partial-birth abortion" legislation that does not allow exceptions to protect the mother's health is completely unacceptable.

Thankfully, the Obama administration is dedicated to preserving a woman's right to choose while supporting measures that will decrease the number of unwanted pregnancies. In January 2009, President Obama reversed the Bush administration's policy by lifting the ban on federal funding for international groups that promote or perform abortions.

Unfortunately, the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives is taking our nation in a strong anti-choice direction, focusing on taking away Americans' access to basic health care services and threatening the health of millions of women.

The repeal of health care reform in the House followed by the introduction of H.R. 3, the so-called No-Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, is unconscionable. Current law already bans federal funds from being used for abortion services under the Hyde Amendment, and health plans receiving federal funds must segregate them from those used for abortion services. H.R. 3 would further restrict women's access to reproductive services by prohibiting the use of funds authorized or appropriated by federal law for any abortion, as well as for any health benefits coverage that includes abortion. It would impose a number of burdensome tax penalties and limit the exceptions for which abortions can be provided to forcible rape, incest with a minor, and when a woman's life is endangered. I do not believe that Congress or the courts have a right to place restrictions on a woman's Constitutionally-protected freedom of choice.

On February 19, 2011, I joined several of my colleagues in signing onto a letter addressed to Speaker Boehner expressing our opposition to H.R. 217, the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act, a bill that would prohibit community health centers from receiving Title X family planning funds if they separately provide abortion care with private funds. This legislation is clearly intended to prevent Planned Parenthood and other women's health centers from receiving this critical funding stream, thus barring millions of women from accessing basic primary care.

These pieces of legislation will hurt millions of women, especially low-income communities and minorities. Rest assured that I will continue to defend a woman's right to choose and do everything in my power to oppose the passage of H.R. 3, H.R. 217, and any other anti-choice legislation. Improving the health and well-being of all women and girls is my priority. I will also continue to support legislative efforts that help increase access to the health care services and information that women need and deserve.

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