Senate Democrats

REID STATEMENT ON PREVENTION FIRST AMENDMENT

Washington, DCSenate Democratic Leader Harry Reid today delivered the following statement on the Prevention First Amendment to the Budget Resolution. Sponsored by Senators Clinton and Reid, the amendment offers a common ground, common sense approach that will reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and the resulting abortions, and help women have healthy pregnancies and healthy children.

Senator Reid’s remarks as prepared follow below.

Prevention First Amendment to Budget Resolution

Statement by Senator Harry Reid

March 15, 2006

One of the most heated debates of recent years has been on the issue of abortion.

People on both sides of the issue feel strongly. They have argued, demonstrated and protested with much emotion and passion.

The approval last week of a South Dakota law banning virtually all abortions has only intensified the already strong feelings on both sides of the issue.

The issue isn’t going to go away soon … and I doubt that one side will be able to suddenly convince the other to drop its deeply held beliefs.

But there is a need – and an opportunity – for us to find common ground.

Today, I am joining with Senator Clinton to introduce an amendment that offers not only common ground, but common sense.

Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice…Democrat or Republican…our amendment advances two key goals we should all share:

1) reducing the number of unintended pregnancies and resulting abortions;

and

2) helping women have healthy pregnancies and healthy children

Our amendment will make sure that there is money available in the budget to enact policies that support these important goals.

Specifically, our amendment would allow us to:

– Increase funding for the National Family Planning Program (Title X);

– Pass the Equity in Prescription Insurance and Contraceptive Coverage (EPICC) bill so we may end insurance discrimination against women;

– Improve awareness and understanding of emergency contraception; and

– Improve teen pregnancy prevention programs.

Our amendment would also restore cuts and provide funding for crucial programs that support pregnant women and their children.

The United States has among the highest rate of unintended pregnancies of all industrialized nations. Half all pregnancies in the United States are unintended.

And about half of those pregnancies end in abortions.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Most of these unintended pregnancies – and the resulting abortions – can be prevented.

One of the most important steps we can take to prevent unintended pregnancies is ensuring that American women have access to affordable, effective contraception.

Our amendment helps make family planning service more accessible to low-income women. It improves awareness and understanding of emergency contraception, a poorly understood yet highly effective form of contraception. It promotes teen pregnancy prevention programs, and it would end insurance discrimination against women.

These are just some of the simple but necessary steps we can and should take to prevent unintended pregnancies and reduce abortions.

It is difficult for me to understand why many of the same people who support an outright ban on abortion also oppose making contraception more accessible — particularly for low-income women who are more likely to have unplanned pregnancies. For example, a recent analysis by the non-partisan Guttmacher Institute revealed that South Dakota is one of the most difficult states for low income women to obtain contraceptives.

Reducing the number of unintended pregnancies – and the resulting abortions – should be a goal we can all share.

In addition to supporting programs that will reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, our amendment will restore cuts and provide much needed funds for programs that provide critical support for pregnant women and their children.

Our amendment says that while we should do everything we can to prevent unintended pregnancies in the first place, we should also fund programs that help women have healthy pregnancies and healthy children.

This includes funding for programs that: provide health care for pregnant women and their children, reduce infant mortality, provide child care assistance for low-income families, and provide nutritional assistance for pregnant women and children.

Our amendment gives Americans on both sides of the abortion debate the opportunity to join together in the common goals of preventing unintended pregnancies, reducing abortions and supporting pregnant women and their children.

I hope that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and on both sides of the abortion debate will agree and will support this amendment.

###