Democrats for Life has, in the words of Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), "booted" him from their national advisory board. Why? Well, Ryan and Connecticut's Rosa DeLauro are sponsoring the "Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act" (summary via email).

Prevention: Almost half of all pregnancies are unintended and four-in-ten unintended pregnancies end in abortion. Policies in the bill that help prevent unintended pregnancy include:

  • Grants for Teen Pregnancy Prevention Comprehensive Education (encouraging teens to delay sexual activity and providing age appropriate, factually and medically accurate and complete contraceptive information for teens)
  • Support for After-School Programs
  • Teen Pregnancy Prevention Incentive Grants
  • Grants to Encourage Creative Approaches to Teen Pregnancy Prevention
  • A National Initiative to Enlist Parents in Preventing Teen Pregnancy
  • Grants to Prevent Unplanned Pregnancy Among Community College Students
  • Restoration of Medicaid Entitlement to Coverage of Family Planning Services
  • Expanded Coverage of Family Planning under Medicaid for Low-Income Women
  • Increased Support for the Nation’s Title X Family Planning Program
  • Grants for Home Visits by Trained Home Visitors for Low-Income Families (to include contraceptive counseling)

Support: One of the two most common reasons women report having an abortion is that they cannot afford a child. Policies in the bill that support pregnant women who wish to carry their pregnancies to term and assist new families include:

  • Expanded Medicaid and CHIP Coverage of Mothers and Children (including expanded postpartum coverage and increased CHIP income eligibility for children)
  • Coverage of Maternity Care
  • Improved Access to Prenatal Ultrasounds
  • A Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention Program for Women
  • Increased Support for Pregnant and Parenting Students
  • Grants for a National Information Campaign on Adoption
  • Expanded Adoption Tax Credit Assistance
  • Increased Support for the WIC Program (extending certification periods for children, promoting and supporting breastfeeding, and increasing WIC funding)
  • Expanded Nutritional Support for Low-Income Parents
  • Increased Funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant Program
  • Grants for Home Visits by Trained Home Visitors for Low-Income Families (to include contraceptive counseling)
  • A Public Awareness Campaign Regarding Resources Available to New Parents

What it boils down to is that Ryan is not an acceptable Democrat for Life because he supports contraception.

"We’re working in Congress with groups that agree with preventative options while [the DFLA] is getting left behind," Ryan said. "I can’t figure out for the life of me how to stop pregnancies without contraception. Don’t be mad at me for wanting to solve the problem."


Ryan said he tried to convince officials with Democrats For Life of America, which he referred to Monday as a "fringe group," that the use of contraception is needed as part of any plan to reduce unintended pregnancies but that failed.

And make no mistake about it -- opposition to contraception is a fringe position. Among women who have ever had intercourse, 98% have used contraception, while among "fertile, sexually active women who do not want to become pregnant," 89% are using contraceptives, for a total of 62% of all women between the ages of 15 and 44.

I disagree with Ryan's position on abortion, but his support for measures to decrease unwanted pregnancies is one that can actually get us somewhere -- reducing abortions not by making them expensive, difficult, and frightening to get but by reducing unplanned pregnancies. This is a position that finds true common ground. How common? Planned Parenthood and Jim Wallis have signed on as supporters of this bill. NARAL and churches and religious leaders and theologians. That "Democrats for Life" rejects that common ground in favor of a radical anti-contraception agenda is telling, and counterproductive.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Tue Jul 21, 2009 at 04:00 PM PDT.

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