Tuesday, March 22, 2005

In case you missed Ellen Goodman's column on abortion in last Saturday's Post, I'm here to help you out. I went looking for it on the net and found it--ah, serendipity--on a website called "Are We There Yet?" The website, a mixture of cartoons and columns, is worth a visit. You'll have to scroll a bit to get to Goodman, but the journey is as much worth your while as the destination.
As for the destination itself, Goodman's column, here's the conclusion:
A new report from the Alan Guttmacher Institute says that public-funded family planning has gone down in 27 states, forcing clinics to turn away four out of 10 women who need subsidized contraception. The Bush budget has proposed cutting Medicaid funding further, while Congress is fixated on making it a crime to take a minor across state lines for an abortion.
Which is the better way to reduce abortions? By prosecution or prevention? After years of playing defense, NARAL Pro-Choice America has gone on the offense. In a recent ad, they challenged opponents to join them in decreasing abortions by increasing access to birth control.
At the same time, Senate Democratic Leader, Harry Reid, an abortion-rights opponent, has introduced a model bill for the pro-life/pro-choice/pro-contraception middle. The Prevention First Act would more than double federal money for family planning clinics, require private health plans to cover prescription contraceptives, and force abstinence-only education programs to be accurate when they describe contraceptives.
This bill has been greeted with the sound of one party clapping.
Still think the Democrats are too beholden to the pro-choice left? We're seeing a Republican Party beholden to the anti-birth control right. One side wants to prevent unwanted pregnancies, the other to punish them. Who holds the title to the middle ground now?

NARAL is currently urging its Missouri members to call their state senators, asking them to get the Patient Protection Act out of committee. Here's what NARAL says about Missouri Senate Bill 458:
Emergency contraception (EC) is perhaps the single most promising way to reduce abortion and teen pregnancy. It is readily available without a prescription in the rest of the developed world.
Right-wing extremists in Missouri are pressuring pharmacists not to fill prescriptions for this safe legal and effective birth control which is NOT an “abortion pill”. It does not work if you are pregnant and does not harm a fetus.
The Patient Protection Act requires pharmacists to fill prescriptions as written by a physician. It requires them to alert their employer in advance if they are unwilling, and to accommodate the timely filling of prescriptions “without undue hardship."

That pill sounds like good middle ground to me, if the right were in any mood to look for a meeting of the minds.

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