Brownback’s Backdoor Anti-Abortion Bill?


Senator Sam Brownback is not well-known outside the state of Kansas. You're likely scratching your head trying to figure out why you recognize his name. Think back to very early in the Republican race, when the debates were populated by 11 different candidates. The guy on the outer wings, the one who said that he didn't believe in evolution and that he'd like to see Roe v. Wade overturned, the one with the curly hair and the Kansas drawl, that's him.

Sen. Brownback is known for his extreme conservatism. It's not just fiscal restraint and state's rights with this guy. He has members of the far-right saying, "Wow, this guy is hard-core." Not surprisingly, Sen. Brownback is thoroughly anti-choice. He does not believe that there are any circumstances under which a termination of pregnancy is acceptable, not even in cases of rape or incest. So it's not a shock that he's introduced another bill regarding abortion. The knee-jerk reaction is to assume that any bill coming from Sen. Brownback regarding this issue is inherently flawed and a thinly veiled effort to undermine women's rights, which is why everyone who has read the bill or anything about it is finding themselves a little confused, because that's not what this bill is. 

Here's what the bill does:

For women and families whose prenatal testing has indicated that the fetus has a genetic disorder, physicians will be required to provide "access to timely, scientific, and nondirective counseling about conditions being tested for and accuracy of such tests." Additionally, the bill would create a nation-wide list of families who are willing to adopt children with special needs and referral to support services, including a national clearinghouse of coping resources.

While he may be getting cheers from some, Sen. Brownback's efforts smack of an inability to grasp the difficulty of the heartbreaking choices some families must make. A diagnoses of Down Syndrome does not always mean that a family will give birth to a living child with Down's. What it can mean is that the disorder is such that their baby will die from Down's. The same is true for many genetic and chromosomal disorders. There are degrees of severity and some of them simply are not compatible with life.

The spirit of this bill is laudable; anything that allows women and families to make the decision that is best for them is a step in the right direction. But one step doesn't get you to a destination. If Sen. Brownback is serious about reducing abortion, then it's time to focus on the causes and impact of unplanned pregnancy. In fact, knowing Brownback's typical M.O., one has to wonder if this is an attempt to lull everyone into a false sense of security before tacking on a bunch of amendments that undermine a woman's right to choose.

Sen. Brownback says that this bill is an effort to promote the "culture of life." But the so-called "culture of life" has to be about more than preventing abortions, it must be about making it easier to access information, birth control and the resources parents need to raise children in today's world.

The fact is that the "culture of life" is not being promoted in this country, period. Families are not guaranteed paid medical leave, not all women can access the preventative health care necessary to decrease and detect birth defects, students are not given honest and thorough sex education, and when given the chance to cover low-income children for healthcare, the Congress (Sen. Brownback included) said "no."

What are we to make of a culture that focuses more on the pre-born than they do the pre-schooler? There must be a broad and sweeping overhaul in how this country deals with issues like poverty, health care and education before anything can be done to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions.

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  • http://www.libertariangirl.com invalid-0

    Brownback isn’t for states’ rights if he put this bill up– it’s encouraging big, centralized government.

    By the way, if you believe that abortion is wrong for the reasons Brownback does– that life begins at conception, and abortion is tantamount to murder– of course you’re not going to make exceptions for rape or incest, or you’re just a poser. A fetus conceived by rape isn’t any different than one conceived by a couple trying for 20 years to have a baby. If you think one’s alive, you think the other’s alive. The mother would then be committing murder, just the same as if my friend dies and leaves me to raise her son and I kill him, that would be murder, although it would get me out of raising a kid I might not want to raise and didn’t ask for. You have to understand that before you can even begin a discussion on this topic. Someone who would make exceptions for rape or incest would really be a hypocrite.

  • invalid-0

    My mom was urged to get an abortion, she was told by her obstetrician that my brother would be born deaf, blind, and mentally handicapped. My mother did not get a second diagnoses but she also did not abide by her doctors wishes. Her insurance did not step in – back then insurance did not usually step in and direct what would be done based on what would be paid for. Fast forward, my sil dealt with a doctor telling her of a diagnoses with a certain condition. And the insurance stepped in and essentially she had to go along because they could not afford to fight the corporate insurance. This bill would have helped her against big company insurance.

    S. 609 [109th]: Prenatally Diagnosed Condition Awareness Act
    A bill to amend the Public Health Service Act to increase the provision of scientifically sound information and support services to patients receiving a positive test diagnosis for Down syndrome or other prenatally diagnosed conditions.
    Record Text
    Last Action: Introductory remarks on measure. (CR S2982-2983)
    Status: Sen. Samuel Brownback [R-KS]: Mr. President, I recently introduced S. 609, the Prenatally-diagnosed Conditions Awareness Act, with my colleague, the senior Senator from Massachusetts.

  • invalid-0

    Brownback’s a hard-core right wingnut, for sure. I object, however, to your reference to his “Kansas drawl.” Kansans don’t have a “drawl.” Nor do we speak with a “twang,” as some have it. Our dialect is Midwestern – that is to say, Standard American.

    Getting back to Brownback: I wonder whose idea this bill really was? Judging from the correspondence I’ve had with Senator Sam, it seems a bit too shrewd (if, indeed, he’s planning to lard it with all those amendments you refer to) for him. I’ve been writing to him for years on so-called “lefty” issues, and all I’ve gotten in reply have been standard-issue Republican talking points. Does the man think? I can’t tell.

  • invalid-0

    “A diagnoses [sic] of Down Syndrome does not always mean that a family will give birth to a living child with Down’s. What it can mean is that the disorder is such that their baby will die from Down’s.”

    …so the answer is to kill them now so that they won’t die later, huh? Same ol’, same ol’…

  • http://www.turntheclockforward.org/ invalid-0

    I’m confused; I can’t tell whether you’re for this bill or against it. And if you’re against it, I can’t tell why. What, specifically, is bad about it?

    By the way, do you know what the impetus for this bill was?

    There was a study done recently which found that women whose children are diagnosed with Down Syndrome before birth are usually provided with inadequate and biased information about their prognosis. They don’t get referrals to parents’ support groups, they don’t get information about people who would be willing to adopt their child, they don’t get any information about everything that their child still *can* do, even with a disability. Often, the diagnosis is framed as the worst-case scenario. Unsurprisingly, most abort.

    This bill didn’t just come out of nowhere. It’s a response to a real problem. I also would point out that Senator Kennedy, not noted for his advocacy of restrictions on abortion, is the co-sponsor.

  • invalid-0

    or just quantity of life? If the child born with a birth defect will have a very low quality of life, the parents may decide to abort and spare the child any suffering.

  • invalid-0

    …the government forcing me to bear my attacker’s child would be akin to being raped all over again.

  • http://realchoice.blogspot.com invalid-0

    You said, “A diagnoses of Down Syndrome does not always mean that a family will give birth to a living child with Down’s. What it can mean is that the disorder is such that their baby will die from Down’s.”

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but DS is not a lethal abnormality. Peole with DS live to adulthood routinely and can live full, satisfying lives. Which would, of course, be improved immeasurably if they could live free of the horrible prejudice of people like you, who would applaud efforts to have them all put to death.

    Where is our celebration of “diversity”?

  • http://realchoice.blogspot.com invalid-0

    You win the prize for most apt username, Ruthless.

    Where do “tolerance” and “diversity” go when the way somebody is different makes you personally uncomfortable?

    Just because somebody’s existence disturbs you ought not to be a reason to have them exectuted.

  • http://realchoice.0catch.com invalid-0

    Since when do we execute the children of criminals? Because that’s what abortion for rape is — executing the child for a crime his or her father committed.

    If that’s your idea of justice, I’m sure the Mafia has work for you.

  • janine

    Agreed ruthless…and it’s 9 months before a woman can stop the continuation of the rape. If a fetus has certain rights over a woman, then its not unethical for another to behave like a fetus and exercise these same rights too. Yet, he goes to jail because he’s born and no longer worthy of having his ‘fetal rights’ protected.

  • invalid-0

    execution

    Because that’s what abortion for rape is — executing the child for a crime his or her father committed.

    Advocating legal force to make rape survivors go to term is political suicide,thus buzzwords like “execution” are created by the anti-abortion movement. It marginalizes the woman and the pain she feels. What is next? Paternity rights for the rapist?

  • invalid-0

    I’m a big fan of horse racing, and Ruthless won the first Belmont Stakes. You win the prize for most idiotic assumption.

    You win the prize for most apt username, Ruthless.

    Where do “tolerance” and “diversity” go when the way somebody is different makes you personally uncomfortable?

    And this must be your second foolish assumption about me. Where did I say the difference of someone makes me uncomfortable?

    Just because somebody’s existence disturbs you ought not to be a reason to have them exectuted.

    What disturbs me are proposed “stealth laws” which proclaim one effect,while worded for a different effect. They are dishonest and unethical. For you to champion such laws says a lot about you.

  • invalid-0

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but DS is not a lethal abnormality. Peole with DS live to adulthood routinely and can live full, satisfying lives. Which would, of course, be improved immeasurably if they could live free of the horrible prejudice of people like you, who would applaud efforts to have them all put to death.

    I agree Downs Syndrome is a poor example. Encephaely(sp?),where the fetus’s brain fails to develop and the skull fills with fluid would be more apt. Babies who live long enough to be born are blind,deaf,and unable to walk. They are also severely retarded and won’t progress mentally past the infant stage. Then again,the fetus may die before birth. When tests show this defect,some parents may decide to terminate and spare themselves the agony of birthing a dead baby.

  • invalid-0

    …idea that allows us to kill anyone who isn’t perfect (you know, like we are). Grandpa’s old and in a hospital bed? A woman in Florida has brain damage? A child has DS? We judge thee to have a “Low Quality of Life,” and thy sentence is death (so that we aren’t inconvenienced by your existence anymore)…

  • invalid-0

    The difference with a fetus diagnosed with a terrible disease and a person like you mentioned is that the fetus cannot give us an indication of what it wants. It does not in fact have a consciousness, cannot make decisions, or have wants. These parents are choosing to spare the child a lifetime of pain and suffering. It is the parent’s choice, because the fetus cannot ,and at no point could, make choices. The only time you could make the decision to terminate in the examples you use is if they have a living will, or have left instructions as to how they want to be handled in such an instance. They were able to make a choice. A fetus cannot. And if it could, can you tell me it would choose such a low quality of life? Would you have in that instance?

  • invalid-0

    …idea that allows us to kill anyone who isn’t perfect (you know, like we are). Grandpa’s old and in a hospital bed? A woman in Florida has brain damage? A child has DS?

    All three are already born,the U.S.Constitution recognizes them as persons,all three are sentient. BIG difference between them and a fetus severely impacted by a fatal birth defect.

    We judge thee to have a “Low Quality of Life,” and thy sentence is death (so that we aren’t inconvenienced by your existence anymore)…

    Did I thank you for proving my point about some anti -abortion activists? Of course you shouldn’t have to discuss this matter like an adult if childish,knee jerk buzzwords will do.