Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Democrats pledge support for wide access to abortion

Democrats pledge support for wide access to abortion
By Mike Dorning
Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune
Published July 18, 2007

WASHINGTON -- Elizabeth Edwards said Tuesday that her husband's health-care plan would provide insurance coverage of abortion.

Speaking on behalf of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards before the family planning and abortion-rights group Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Edwards lauded her husband's health-care proposal as "a true universal health-care plan" that would cover "all reproductive health services, including pregnancy termination," referring to abortion.

Edwards was joined by Democratic candidates Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) at the group's political organizing conference in addressing issues at the core of the political clash between cultural liberals and conservatives, including abortion rights, access to contraception and sex education.

The recent 5-4 Supreme Court decision upholding a federal ban on a late-term abortion procedure that opponents call "partial-birth abortion" has increased anxieties among reproductive-rights advocates over the future of constitutional protections for abortion rights. All three of the Democratic campaigns used the forum to signal their determination to appoint Supreme Court nominees who would uphold the 1973 Roe vs. Wade abortion ruling.

Obama, who earlier gained the endorsement of Washington, D.C., Mayor Adrian Fenty, offered the group a vision of equal opportunity for women, tying a call for improved access to contraceptives for low-income women with a call for an "updated social contract" that includes paid maternity leave and expanded school hours.

Asked about his proposal for expanded access to health insurance, Obama said it would cover "reproductive-health services." Contacted afterward, an Obama spokesman said that included abortions.

Clinton has not yet released her health-care proposal. She provided a bruising critique of Bush administration policies and Republican conservatives on abortion rights and contraception policy.

She criticized cuts in contraception services for low-income women, lengthy delays in approving over-the-counter sales of the "morning-after" contraceptive pill and redirection of sex education funds to abstinence-only programs that do not include information on contraceptive use or condoms toto prevent the spread of AIDS.



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