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December 02, 2005

Interesting Democratic Proposal on Abortion

Our Democratic leaders are working on some very interesting policy proprosals that they can put forth to the public in early 2006.  A few weeks ago, I wrote about a new tax proposal that Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, developed. Today, we hear about an abortion reduction initiative called the "95-10" proposal that would develop policies to reduce U.S. abortions by 95% over 10 years by preventing "unwanted pregnancies" and, the best part, by providing "social support" for pregnant women.  According to an article in the Washington Times (ya, ya, I know, they are generally lock-step right-wing supporters but occasionally . . .),

Supporters hope to soften their party's abortion-on-demand image and attract evangelical Christian and pro-life Catholic voters who have been voting Republican in recent years.

Rep. Tim Ryan, a pro-life Democrat from Ohio and the chief sponsor of the bill, says, "I would worry if I were the Republican leadership, because we are going to provide the true, long-term solution to reducing the number of abortions".

Former Indiana Congressman Tim Roemer, also pro-life, is supportive.  Here's what he says:

"This bill will put front and center the fact that there are too many abortions in the United States and what can we do through health care tax credits, adoption, contraception, abstinence, appropriate education of teenagers on how to reduce unwanted pregnancies."

Roemer is currently president of the Center for National Policy and a distinguished scholar at George Mason University's Mercatus Center.  There are also pro-choice Democrats who support this initiative.  And because there are so many more pro-choice folks in our party, they will have to climb aboard if this is going to go anywhere.  More from the article:

How one views this proposal depends entirely on one's willingness to compromise on abortion rights. Pro-choice liberals will find a lot to like — the 95-10 plan expands women's health care programs, emphasizes contraception equity in health care plans, and makes adoption tax credits permanent. Better yet, it would demand full funding for the federal WIC program.

Then, there's the flip side. The "95-10" initiative also bans late-term abortions and requires parental-notification laws. That might be a little more problematic.

This might be a much-needed advance in a discussion that has been pretty well stuck for a long time.  Let the dialogue begin.

Hat tip to The Carpetbagger Report.

UPDATE:  Following a reference in a comment, I tracked down the organization, Democrats for Life, that sponsored the bill.  You can see the proposal for yourself at their website.  

Posted by Lynn Allen on December 2, 2005 at 06:19 PM in Policy | Permalink


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If it is possible to de-politicize the issue, this looks like a pretty good attempt.

The main problem with it is that parental notification is terribly unfair to kids who are impregnated by a parent and there are other more grey area issues involved.

Also, isn't it possible that neither party really wants to lose abortion as a wedge issue? Isn't this the big one that is used specifically to rally voters and raise money for candidates?

Let's have a discussion about this and not get cranky. Evergreen Politics seems like a pretty good place for that.

Posted by: Lisa | Dec 3, 2005 10:32:43 AM


I like the idea of Democrats being the Party of ideas again. And I really hope something like this one flies. It gives the Democrats the opportunity to focus on something that is greatly needed - fewer abortions while supporting choice and supporting Moms - that almost everyone can rally around. And we know Republicans can't do any of that. They can't even do fewer abortions unless they can get autocratic about it.

Posted by: Lynn | Dec 3, 2005 3:07:25 PM

As a pro-life Democrat who is tired of the abortion war, I would like to see the social safety net provisions of the 95/10 plan implemented. While I support a ban on late term abortion and parental consent laws, I think it would be a misguided strategy to mix these issues with the less controversial proposals of the 95/10 plan. In fact, I was not aware that the plan included any changes in abortion laws. The summary that I read make no reference to late term abortion or parental consent. I hope that is not true as it would be a missed opportunity for pro-life and pro-choice individuals who want to reduce the abortion rate to work together.

The Columbian newspaper had a column about the 95/10 plan on Thursday. See link below.

Posted by: Right Democrat | Dec 3, 2005 8:38:46 PM

Yes, many of us are tired of the abortion wars and this proposal does address many concerns in a very broad way. It also has fairly stringent parental notification requirements. It will be interesting to see whether the trade-offs work for enough Democrats to make this a real proposal they can put forth.

I followed your reference back to a site, Democrats for Life and found the entire proposal.

Posted by: Lynn | Dec 3, 2005 11:03:56 PM

I just checked the DFLA site again and you are right that parental consent is mentioned. In my view, that does take away from the goal of uniting pro-choice and pro-life folks toward working together to reduce the number of abortions. There are still a lot of good ideas in the 95/10 plan that should have broad based support.

Posted by: Right Democrat | Dec 3, 2005 11:50:00 PM

Well, we're at the beginning of the sausage-making process so a lot will change. I'm just pleased that there is something so innovative on the table, even if there are aspects of the proposed bill that I don't like.

Posted by: Lynn | Dec 4, 2005 9:03:30 AM

I expected to see some angry comments here from pro-choicers that the proposals for parental notification and a ban on late term abortions were deal breakers.

It's nice to not see that. I'm tired of the divisiveness of this issue.

The one big thing I see missing from this 95-10 proposal is explicit attention to poverty issues. They get at it somewhat with the WIC expansion...

Defusing this abortion issue is key. Clearly neither the pro-choicers or the pro-lifers are going to go away or soften their stances. Changing the terms of the debate to one that seeks all possible areas of common ground is the only way to go.

And this also may help in the effort against the ideologues who oppose evidence-based approaches to sex education.

As for the parental notification part of this. I too think it's a mistake. Not only in terms of young women who are victims of incest -- but also in terms of those from very strict or even abusive households. There are lots of these. But perhaps this can be either removed -- or tinkered with (liberal exceptions in cases where young women are afraid of their families.)

Posted by: Noemie Maxwell | Dec 4, 2005 1:33:19 PM

I'm pro choice...

...I'm in favor of women chosing not to have an abortion.

I'm in favor of people being held responsible for their actions, provided they have the tools to make good choices. I asked some folks from the "base" if they thought the purpose of the Democratic Party is to keep abortion legal. They weren't sure what to say. Abortion ought to be a peripheral issue. I'm more interested in privacy, and how "conservatives" want government to be more "liberal" by getting deeper into folks private lives. Privacy ought to be what unites Dems on the left and center/right.

Posted by: Belltowner | Dec 5, 2005 10:13:31 PM

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