Copyright 1999 Times Publishing Company
October 28, 1999, Thursday, 0 South Pinellas
SECTION: EDITORIAL; EDITORIALS; Pg. 16A
LENGTH: 384 words
Abortion takes back seat for now
Ever since the Republican takeover in 1995, the U.S.
House of Representatives has been trying to chip away at abortion rights. House
lawmakers led the effort to ban abortion funding for women in federal prisons.
They passed legislation that prohibited abortions on U.S. military bases and
stripped abortion coverage from the health plan for federal employees. Now, in a
change of strategy, Republican leaders are trying to keep the issue in the
background, at least for now.
House leaders say this is a change of
strategy, not a change of mind. It is a calculated maneuver designed to give
Republicans a political advantage in the ongoing budget fight with President
Clinton. In an effort to deprive the president of reasons to veto their
appropriations bills, Republican leaders have been cracking down on the
so-called anti-abortion riders that party conservatives historically have
attached to must-pass spending bills.
The change has infuriated some of
the GOP's strongest allies, including conservative groups that have lobbied for
new limits on abortion funding. But the House GOP is so desperate to ram through
its spending measures that most of its major appropriations bills have passed
without new abortion restrictions. The House passed a foreign-aid bill that was
free of anti-abortion riders that have hampered international family planning
efforts. Lawmakers agreed for the second year in a row to fund
contraceptive coverage for federal employees, and they agreed
to drop a provision from the agricultural spending bill that would have
prevented the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from approving the French
abortion bill RU-486. Conservatives also agreed to resist adding any
anti-abortion amendments to the bill funding the Labor, Health and Human
Congressional Republicans have not done a complete
about-face on the abortion issue. Earlier this year, the House passed a bill
that would prohibit adults from taking a teenager across state lines to obtain
an abortion. Meanwhile, the Senate, which historically has been more moderate on
abortion issues, recently approved legislation that would ban so-called "partial
When the battle of the budget is over, we have no
doubt that House Republicans will be back to their old tricks.
LOAD-DATE: October 28, 1999