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Choice and the 2010 Elections

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This post was updated on January 5, 2011.

Our message to pro-choice Americans is clear: the newly elected Congress includes many more politicians who will attack a woman's right to choose and interfere in our personal, private medical decisions.  Many of the anti-choice candidates who won last night ran on messages of limited government, with one hypocritical exception: a woman's right to choose. 

Despite setbacks, pro-choice Americans celebrate the victory of our great champion, Sen. Barbara Boxer in California, and a win in Delaware, where Sen.-elect Chris Coons defeated Christine O'Donnell, a tea-party-backed anti-choice extremist. Sen.-elect Coons will replace a mixed-choice incumbent. Two pro-choice pick-ups include NARAL Pro-Choice America PAC-endorsed Reps.-elect Colleen Hanabusa in Hawaii's 1st Congressional District and Cedric Richmond in Louisiana's 2nd Congressional District. In addition, Reps.-elect David Cicilline in Rhode Island's 1st  District and John Carney in Delaware's at-large seat will replace mixed-choice incumbents. 

As we await the outcome of an incredibly close Senate race in Colorado, we commend NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado and its allies for leading the campaign that decisively defeated Amendment 62, a so-called "personhood" ballot measure. The victory over Amendment 62 marked the second time voters in the Rocky Mountain state have rejected a measure that would establish legal protections for fertilized eggs, with the goal of outlawing abortion and many common forms of birth control as well as stem-cell research and in vitro fertilization.
Choice Composition of the 112th Congress
  Pro-Choice Mixed Choice Anti-choice
House* 155 34 246
Senate** 40 14 46

Net Change in Choice Composition Between 111th and 112th Congress
  Pro-Choice Mixed Choice Anti-choice
House -26 -14 +42
Senate -1 -5 +6

Our opponents falsely will claim that this new political landscape means they have the public's support for anti-choice policies. They are wrong. Americans are focused on our nation's economic challenges. We all know friends and family members who are struggling--but we also know these individuals do not want politicians to wage a divisive war on safe, legal abortion. 

The following list includes examples of incoming anti-choice members of the 112th Congress and provides ample reasons for pro-choice Americans to be prepared to fight against anti-choice attacks in both chambers:
Sen.-elect Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania once said during an interview with MSNBC that he wants to outlaw abortion and put doctors who provide abortion care in jail. [Hardball with Chris Matthews, August 4, 2009]
  • During his tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives, Sen.-elect Rob Portman of Ohio voted to deny funding of abortion care to survivors of rape and incest. [House vote #619 (8/3/95); House vote #51 (3/7/96)] 
  • Two incoming representatives who previously served in Congress,  Mike Fitzpatrick in Pennsylvania's 8th Congressional District and Tim Walberg in Michigan's 7th Congressional District, each supported legislation that would end all legal abortion, most common forms of birth control, stem cell research, and in vitro fertilization. [H.R.552, 109th Congress (Fitzpatrick); H.R.618, 110th Congress ; H.R.4157, 110th Congress (Walberg)]
  • In addition, the list of anti-choice Reps.-elect includes Cory Gardner in Colorado's 4th Congressional District, Joe Heck in Nevada's 3rd Congressional District, and David Schweikert in Arizona's 5th District, all of whom were endorsed by the extreme Concerned Women for America PAC, which refers to a safe medical abortion option (RU 486) as "killer pills."
Rep. John Boehner, who is widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives, is virulently anti-choice. Boehner has accepted the endorsement of the Republican National Coalition for Life, which requires all endorsed candidates to "indicate they are faithfully pro-life, and do not justify abortion for innocent babies who are conceived through rape or incest." A House under Boehner's control is poised to attack choice in the following ways:
  • Push the new "Stupak on Steroids" bill. This bill is even worse than the original Stupak ban in health reform. It would ban coverage of abortion in the new system and impose a tax on Americans with private insurance plans that include abortion coverage. (Keep in mind, 87 percent of private plans include such coverage.) Boehner is one of more than 180 current members of the House who are cosponsors of this legislation. 
  • Repeal the health-reform law. It's outrageous, but our opponents have threatened to overturn the health-care law, which promises major improvements in women's access to birth control and prenatal care services.  
  • Revive the failed, Bush-era "abstinence-only" programs that censored discussion of birth control. 
  • Cut funding for family-planning programs that provide women access to basic health care, such as birth control and cancer screening.
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