January 12, 2009
Big year for abortion legislation at federal, state levels
Life March speaker worried about Obama impact
PLATTSBURGH -- This is expected to be the most challenging year the anti-abortion movement has faced in modern times.
Christopher Slattery, founder and president of Expectant Mother Care FrontLine Pregnancy Centers in the Bronx, told a crowd of about 160 at St. John's Church that this is a big year, a year of change. Anti-abortion supporters need to work harder than ever before to prevent passage of the Freedom of Choice Act, which has the support of President-elect Barack Obama.
"It makes Roe v. Wade look like a kindergarten bill," Slattery said.
It would overturn every single abortion restriction passed in all 50 states, he said, more than 500 laws. It could also lead to resumption of federal funding of abortions through Medicaid, something that hasn't been allowed since Congress passed the Hyde amendment in 1976.
The act is likely to lead to an increase of about 150,000 abortions each year, Slattery said.
New York legislation
Another concern is the Reproductive Health and Privacy Protection Act that was introduced to the New York state Legislature by former Gov. Eliot Spitzer. The act would establish the right to abortion as a fundamental right like the right to vote and the right to freedom of speech.
Slattery said Gov. David Paterson has indicated support for that measure if it was reintroduced, as is expected.
Abortion opponents say the act goes far beyond the original provisions of Roe v. Wade.
Planned Parenthood responds
Northern Adirondack Planned Parenthood CEO Kathie Wunderlich said her organization is working hard to stress the importance of those measures on those who will decide if they pass or fail.
"We need to create laws that allow people access to the health-care services they need and desire."
She said she hopes the new administration will improve access to abortion and basic family planning. Planned Parenthood had been worried access would be taken away during the previous administration.
"These are good public-health laws and good public policy," Wunderlich said.
Slattery was the guest speaker following the Champlain Valley Right to Life March for Life, where about 90 supporters walked from the Blessed John XXIII College Community Newman Center to St. John's Church.
He said one thing in the anti-abortion movement's favor may be the world-wide economic crisis, which needs to be the focus of the Obama and Paterson administrations.
"It's going to weaken the resolve of the president and governor to fight abortion or make it a lower priority than it would have been," Slattery said.
He said it's crucial to reach expectant mothers before Planned Parenthood does, which is one of his organization's main goals. Expectant Mother Care counselors have talked with about 95,000 women and girls, and they have helped save more than 30,000 babies of mothers who planned to have abortions, he said.
He urged the audience to join the upcoming 40 Days for Life movement, scheduled from Feb. 25 through April 5. It is a combination of prayer and fasting, constant vigil at abortion providers and community outreach to work toward the end of abortion.
Slattery said about 700 babies were saved in the last campaign. He said more than 100,000 people were involved in some way at 200 sites in Canada and the United States.
"This is a way to bathe that (Northern Adirondack) Planned Parenthood in prayer and sacrifice," Slattery said.
Wunderlich said the presence of anti-abortion protestors in front of her office can intimidate people and even some vendors.
"It can be a jarring experience to go to a medical health-care center and see these people outside," she said. "The 40 Days for Life movement will lead to an even higher level of intimidation to those seeking health services across the country."