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Trojan horses: A dangerous strategy to thwart women’s choice

The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA) and the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) legislation, also known as the “doc fix,” are Trojan horses for enshrining into law anti-choice restrictions on abortion funding and coverage.

So close – oh, so close. They may look like reasonable bills with bipartisan support, but both the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA) and the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) legislation, also known as the “doc fix,” are Trojan horses for enshrining into law anti-choice restrictions on abortion funding and coverage.

By Rev. Kelli Clement

The addition of these restrictions on abortion coverage and funding are clearly part of a concerted effort by anti-choice politicians to expand the reach of the Hyde Amendment wherever they can. The Hyde Amendment, which denies low-income women coverage for abortion care, is renewed on a yearly basis, yet thankfully it has not been enacted into law. Beyond the inherent injustice of the Hyde Amendment, the intention behind these provisions in the SGR and JVTA is to codify this type of language, making harmful and unjust restrictions on reproductive health care more difficult to repeal.

The strategy

This is a continuation of a larger pattern of politicians interfering with reproductive decision-making by pushing abortion out of reach for as many people as possible. Anti-abortion politicians can’t make abortion illegal, so instead they are doing all they can to make it unaffordable and unavailable. Their strategy is to put amendments on every bill, and they are willing to hold up this necessary human trafficking bill, budget bills, and even the Attorney General nomination over it. This is not good public policy; and it is certainly not good health care. It is dangerous and mean- spirited anti-choice politics, plain, but not so simple.

Politicians who believe that a woman’s income should dictate whether she can get the full spectrum of reproductive health care do not have the best interests of women, their families, or our country at heart. Studies show that when policymakers place severe restrictions on Medicaid coverage of abortion, it forces one in four poor women to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term. For a person coming out of the traumatic experience of trafficking to find anti-choice restrictions on how she can access reproductive health care is just one more way that her agency is taken from her. How arrogant for some politicians to assume that they know what is right for her! As a nation we should do all we can to help victims of trafficking to get back on their feet, helping them to make the best decisions for their own lives. When someone’s agency has been taken away, as it has been for these people, to be further victimized by grandstanding politicians is literally adding insult to injury. 

Choice should be free of political interference

Progressive people of faith all over Minnesota and throughout the United States understand that human agency is fundamental to all religious traditions. To be able to make our own decisions about the most basic aspects of our lives, like when and whether to become a parent, should be free of political interference. Anti-choice activists who support these restrictions say that they are following scripture. While there is no Judeo Christian scripture that prohibits abortion, there are many that command society and individuals to care for those who live on the economic margins. Prophets and teachers in every tradition call us to lift up people experiencing poverty. In my tradition we believe in a strong separation between church and state, but we also value honesty and consistency in public discourse and policy.

As a pastor with several years of experience working in the field of reproductive health care, I have never once heard a woman say that she wishes a politician had been available to help her make intimate decisions. I have heard women speak with their pastors and rabbis, their family and doctors, and in prayerful discernment with the God of their understanding. This is as it should be.

Minnesotans are fortunate to be represented by Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, both longtime faithful advocates for women’s reproductive decision-making. Progressive people of faith in Minnesota and throughout the country call upon them to continue to stand firm for all women and families, especially those who struggle to make ends meet, to keep this dangerous precedent-setting and mean-spirited language out of legislation that is designed to help and not to hurt.

We’re so close. Let’s get it right.

The Rev. Kelli Clement is the Social Justice Minister of the First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis.


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Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 04/20/2015 - 03:55 pm.

    Well said, Rev. Clement.

  2. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 04/20/2015 - 04:58 pm.

    I have to admit

    I’ve never seen a member of the clergy, a woman of God, so to speak, argue in favor of the legalization of the killing of unborn children. What would Jesus do, indeed.

    The reason the Hyde Amendment has been enforced for so long in this country is because even politicians recognize that decent people shouldn’t be forced to pay for the killing of unborn children with their tax dollars. Even democrat politicians buy into that principle. It’s as simple as that, madam.

    It’s too bad you couldn’t channel your energies and instincts to help people in a campaign to increase the number of adoptive parents in our society.

  3. Submitted by Pavel Yankovic on 04/20/2015 - 07:10 pm.

    No Judeo Christian…

    scripture that prohibits abortion? Have you read the Ten Commandments, Rev. Clement?

  4. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 04/20/2015 - 09:01 pm.

    Abortion as a sacrament for the far left

    Once again this article proves that the far left worships at the altar of abortion.

  5. Submitted by Mark Rose on 04/21/2015 - 06:49 am.

    In a perfect world…

    In a perfect world, women would not have the experience of unwanted pregnancy and desperation that compels seeking an abortion. But even if we provided reality-based sex ed and free access to contraception, some women (and girls) who’ve been raped or sex-trafficked would still end up in this situation.

    Nobody who is pro-choice is actually pro-abortion. Instead, we are pro-abortion rights, and believe this decision should be left to the women (and partner, if a partner is involved) and her physician. Women know if their circumstances are favorable or disastrous for raising a child in.

    It’s not clear to me if this kind of legislation is intended to punish or to change behavior, but the only outcome is added misery. Proponents are not pro-life, they’re pro-birth.

  6. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 04/21/2015 - 07:48 am.

    It Tolls For Thee

    I would give the far right a little more credit on abortion if they were equally as adamant about abolishing the death penalty. Instead they tend to be vocal proponents of killing people in the most horrific manner through lingering deaths via lethal injection.

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