Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Federalism my ass

An anti-abortion provision with potentially widespread impact will remain intact as part of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill for 2005, in spite of efforts by pro-choice Senators to block the measure. President Bush is expected to sign the omnibus spending bill.

On Friday, nine female Senators, including Olympia Snowe (R-ME), sent a letter to chair of the Appropriations Committee Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK), requesting that the language of the clause be changed and protesting the fact that the Federal Refusal Clause had not been discussed in committee, nor had it been put to a vote on the Senate floor. According to the women Senators, the clause, sponsored by Rep. Dave Weldon (R-FL), would “allow a broad range of health-care companies refuse to comply with federal, state, and local laws and regulations pertaining to abortion services. Should this provision become law, federal, state, or local governments may no longer require any institutional or individual health-care provider to provide, pay for, or refer abortion services. This will mean that medical providers in hospitals and clinics across the country will likely be victims of demonstrations and intimidation as this provisions allows that they be forbidden from providing abortion care to women who need it, and also to deny women referrals to another provider.”

Those who speak of federalism as the antidote to a federal government run amok have missed an essential point: using the logic of the Right against them won't be effective if they see themselves as immune from the constraints of logic. So making a states' rights argument in support of the right to choose will be ineffective. Appealing to the tooth fairy might do better.


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