Democratic Bill Could Be a Preview of Obama's Abortion Plan

Democrats introduce a bill that the White House could use as a blueprint for "common ground" plan.

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Democratic Reps. Tim Ryan and Rosa DeLauro reintroduced their bill aimed at preventing unintended pregnancies and "reducing the need for abortion" today. This is big news because moderate to liberal faith-based advocates are urging the White House to adopt the bill—the Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion, and Supporting Parents Act—as the core of its forthcoming "common ground" plan on abortion and reproductive health.

Conservative religious groups, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Southern Baptist Convention, have warned the White House that the Ryan-DeLauro bill is a deal breaker for them, since the bill funds contraception and comprehensive sex education. As I've written here, those groups have urged the administration to decouple the contraception and sex education parts of the plan from the abortion reduction part and get behind two separate bills that divide up the goals.

The White House has refused to say which way it's leaning. But in recent weeks, lots of religious figures and groups close to the White House have expressed support for Ryan and DeLauro, suggesting that that might be the course the administration is inclined to take. This is just a hunch.

But the folks who've recently come out for Ryan-DeLauro include White House buds Rev. Joel Hunter, Rev. Jim Wallis, and Faith in Public Life, not to mention abortion rights groups like NARAL and Planned Parenthood and the left-leaning policy group Third Way, which drafted the bill.

The administration could buck this crowd and get behind Sen. Bob Casey's Pregnant Women Support Act—which is generally considered more robust on reducing demand for abortion and which leaves out contraceptive funding—but that would be a pretty big surprise.

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  • Corrected on 08/03/09:An earlier version of this article [0723godcountry2] misstated the role that the think tank Third Way played in promoting the Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion, and Supporting Parents Act. The group drafted the bill.