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Outrage on Capitol Hill: Anti-Choice Politics Injected into Homeland Security

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Nick and Kate are members of NARAL Pro-Choice America's policy department.

What's it to like to lobby on choice-related issues in an anti-choice-led House of Representatives?

Let us tell you about a recent experience that's likely to make your blood boil, even though it didn't make headlines.

"Abortion services" and "homeland security" are two phrases you probably never thought would appear in the same sentence. But anti-choice leaders in Congress never miss an opportunity to try to dismantle women's reproductive rights, and last week was no different. It took some doing, but they figured out a way to pick a fight over abortion policy in the legislation that funds America's homeland-security programs.

Last Wednesday, as the House Appropriations Committee finalized the 2013 Homeland Security spending bill, Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) introduced an amendment to restrict access to abortion for women in immigration detention facilities.

Under current U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) policy, women in detention centers may only access abortion care in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest. But Rep. Aderholt and his colleagues on the committee wanted to write that restriction into law with one important change: he offered an amendment to eliminate abortion access for incest survivors.

That's right, apparently anti-choice politicians believe that denying abortion care to incest survivors is a matter of national security.

Does this restriction on survivors of sexual violence sound familiar? Remember the "Stupak on Steroids" bill that tried to redefine rape last year? We're sensing a pattern...

The Aderholt measure stood out as an openly callous attempt to deny health care to women in tragic circumstances. ICE Director John Morton even denounced the proposed amendment as wholly unnecessary. Imagine a woman who endured the long and dangerous journey across the border, only to suffer sexual abuse at the hands of a family member. If approved, the original Aderholt measure would have denied that woman and victims like her the opportunity to decide how best to confront and heal from incidents of sexual violence.

The good news: pro-choice champions voiced strong opposition to this inflammatory proposal. Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), Sam Farr (D-Calif.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), Jim Moran (D-Va.), David Price (D-N.C.), and Steve Rothman (D-N.J.) spoke out against this latest affront in the ongoing War on Women.

The bad news: there just aren't enough votes in the anti-choice-dominated House of Representatives to defeat such efforts, so we lost this round. Although pro-choice members succeeded in adding an incest exception to the original measure, the Aderholt amendment ultimately passed on a party-line vote of 28-21.

The silver lining: the pro-choice-led Senate, not to mention our pro-choice president, both have the common sense to reject outrageous and dangerous proposals like this.

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