July 24 - August 22

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Welcome to the NARAL E-News, a round-up of the top news stories about abortion, reproductive rights, contraception and other women's health issues from the past week.

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* The National Journal reports, "Make no mistake: Bush has a solid anti-abortion record." (Murray, National Journal, 8/7/99) In an issue devoted to the political views of GOP frontrunner, George W. Bush, the Journal revealed the depth of Bush's anti-choice position, reporting, "He flatly opposes legal abortion except in the cases of rape incest or when the mother's life is in danger." (Murray, National Journal, 8/7/99) The Journal goes on to note that "The National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League said that Bush led the 'most anti-choice legislature in the country' for 1999," signing into effect some 18 anti-abortion provisions this year. Kae McLaughlin, Executive Director of Texas NARAL was quoted, saying, "There's no difference between what Gary Bauer would do and what George Bush would do." (Murray, National Journal, 8/7/99)

* Anti-choice Reps. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Charles Canady (R-FL), and Chris Smith (R-NJ), aided by the National Right to Life Committee, have introduced the so-called "Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 1999." The regulation is the first-ever federal fetal protection bill and seeks to recognize the fetus as an independent victim of crime. The bill creates unprecedented rights for the fetus in federal law, undermining the foundation of a woman's right to choose as set forth in Roe v. Wade. Proponents of the bill claim to be working in the best interests of women subjected to violent acts, but as NARAL President Kate Michelman said, "As we strive to prevent these heinous acts against women and prosecute those who commit them, we must not proceed in any fashion that provides a foundation on which anti-choice lawmakers can build a future case for tearing down the legal right to choose abortion embodied in Roe v. Wade."

* The Food and Drug Administration approved a new method of emergency contraception called Plan B. Similar to Preven, the drug reduces the chance of pregnancy from eight percent to one percent when taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, but with lesser side effects. NARAL President Kate Michelman praised the approval of the new emergency contraception, saying, "By providing a fall-back method of contraception, this product can help reduce unintended pregnancy and the need for abortion nationwide. In fact, increased use of emergency contraceptives could reduce the number of abortions by half, according to data published in Family Planning Perspectives."

* The House of Representatives voted to defeat an amendment that would have eliminated all U.S. international family planning funds in the FY '00 Foreign Operations Appropriations bill. In a 272-145 vote, the House rejected the amendment by Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX). In a statement released by NARAL, Kate Michelman said, "Although we are pleased by the House's defeat of Rep. Paul's amendment, it is alarming that 145 House members would actually vote to defund the entire U.S. international family planning program. It is indeed difficult to reconcile these members' fervent opposition to legal abortion with their overwhelming hostility to the programs that reduce unintended pregnancy and thus the need for abortion overall. It is a position that seems to defy common sense."

* More than 100 groups from around the world, led by U.S.-based Catholics for a Free Choice (CFFC) have launched a campaign to alter the Vatican's status in the United Nations. The Vatican--a religious body, not a nation--has been allowed a unique and influential status as a voting partner at the UN. Catholics for a Free Choice is leading the "See Change" campaign to reduce the Vatican's U.N. status to that of nongovernmental organization, the same as all other religious organizations. CFFC President Frances Kissling said, "The UN is increasingly debating more and more personal matters, such as sexuality, AIDS and contraception, and these are issues on which the Vatican has an absolute stance. This United Nations is not the place for that kind of absolutism." (Kaiser Daily Report, 8/10) Further information on this effort can be found at Catholics for Free Choice


* The San Francisco Chronicle headline: "Abortion Rights Activists Threaten to Flush Bush Out of the Woods." (8/11) Four hundred members of the California Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (CARAL) met in San Francisco to launch their "Choice 2000" drive. The effort is aimed at fund-raising and "organizing to maintain a pro-choice majority in the state Assembly and elect a pro-choice president," said Belle Taylor-McGhee, executive director of CARAL. (Marinucci, The San Francisco Chronicle, 8/11) Taylor-McGhee mentioned both the 18 anti-choice provisions that Bush signed into law as Governor of Texas, and the GOP frontrunner's success at sidestepping the abortion issue on the campaign trail so far. She said, however, "In this state the majority of Republicans are pro-choice. It's going to be a major issue." (Marinucci, S.F. Chronicle, 8/11)

* The Center for Reproductive Law and Policy (CRLP) is suing Indiana to get the state to provide Medicaid-funded abortions when the procedure is deemed medically necessary. Presently, Indiana only allows Medicaid-funded abortions in cases of rape, incest and life-endangerment of the woman, but the CRLP is seeking to expand funding for women who are suffering from conditions that may harm the fetus or conditions that may worsen due to pregnancy, including hypertension, heart disease, cancer and diabetes. (United Press International, 8/17)

* A Louisiana law subjecting abortion clinics to state inspection, licensing and regulation was put on hold by U.S. District Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle. In issuing his ruling, Judge Lemelle said, "The public interest would best be served by avoiding enforcement of what may turn out to be unconstitutional legislation." (Pope, The Times Picayune, 8/7) The law would require abortion clinics to meet the strict standards of outpatient surgery centers, which would entail expensive construction, equipment, and personnel changes for the clinics, potentially driving them out of business. The law will not go into effect until a court can determine its constitutionality.

* Be sure to check on the latest activity regarding reproductive rights around the country: visit NARAL's website at NARAL