Click on your state to find out how your lawmakers voted on choice-related issues.
The 2010 elections had a profound impact on America's political landscape. The U.S. House of Representatives changed hands and anti-choice leadership took control of the chamber. Politicians who campaigned on an agenda of addressing the nation's pressing challenges—jobs and the economy—took office and promptly ignored their promises. They turned instead to social-policy attacks and launched a War on Women.
NARAL Pro-Choice America's 2011 Congressional Record on Choice documents the key House and Senate votes taken during the first session of the 112th Congress. The highly polarized 112th Congress has only 154 fully pro-choice House members out of 435, and 40 of 100 senators.
In 2011, anti-choice lawmakers attacked reproductive rights on the following fronts:
- Family Planning: Anti-choice lawmakers
tried several times to eliminate the Title X
family-planning program and to defund
Planned Parenthood. For many women,
Title X clinics provide the only basic health
care that they receive; in some communities,
Planned Parenthood is their only available
health-care provider. While all three measures
that the House considered passed,
thankfully the Senate defeated them.
- D.C. Abortion Ban: While family-planning
funding ultimately was spared
during FY'11 budget negotiations, it came
at a terrible price. Anti-choice politicians
forced the inclusion of the D.C. abortion
ban in the final budget deal. This unfair
ban usurps the District's right to self-governance,
undermines the city's home rule,
and makes a mockery of the democratic
process in the nation's capital.
- Abortion-Training Restrictions: Anti-choice
Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) led the
House to vote for an unprecedented
restriction on the use of federal funds for
abortion training at teaching health centers.
The measure would curtail doctors'
ability to receive comprehensive and necessary
instruction in reproductive-health
care, allowing federally funded abortion
training only in circumstances of life
endangerment, rape, or incest. Prudently,
the Senate never took up the proposal.
- Attacks on Medical Abortion: Anti-choice
lawmakers continued their campaign
against the safe and effective early-abortion
pill—known as mifepristone, or
RU 486. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) offered a
surprise-attack amendment to the FY'12
Agriculture appropriations bill that would
have forbidden use of the nation's small
but growing telemedicine system for
delivery or discussion of the medication.
Unfortunately, the House passed the proposal.
A few months later, Sen. Jim DeMint
(R-SC) filed a similar amendment in the
Senate, but it never came up for a vote.
- "Stupak on Steroids" Agenda: The
House of Representatives passed two
bills that continue recent years' attacks
on insurance coverage of abortion. H.R.3,
authored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ),
effectively bans abortion coverage in state
health-insurance exchanges, penalizes
small businesses and many individuals
who purchase health plans that include
abortion coverage, and permanently codifies
all current-law abortion bans. H.R.358,
sponsored by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA), also
effectively bans abortion coverage in state
health-insurance exchanges, and goes
even further: it would allow hospitals to
refuse to provide emergency abortion
care even to women who will die without
it. Thankfully, President Obama issued
statements threatening to veto both bills
and the Senate wisely decided to take up
neither piece of legislation.
Despite their numerical minority in Congress, pro-choice allies countered the anti-choice attacks. In 2011, two victories stood out among the year's barrage of anti-choice activity:
- Birth-Control Coverage: As the Obama
administration worked to implement
the Affordable Care Act, it adopted a recommendation
by an expert Institute of
Medicine panel to require all newly issued
health plans to include family-planning care
as a required benefit at no additional cost.
This historic decision marks the greatest
improvement to women's access to reproductive-health services in a generation and
makes the health-care law's promise of near-universal
contraceptive coverage a reality.
- Family-Planning Services Overseas: For
the second year in a row, the Senate Appropriations
Committee adopted a significant
pro-choice amendment, authored by Sen.
Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), that would block
permanently a future global gag rule. The
committee's action demonstrates its ongoing
commitment to smart international
family-planning policy, and distinguishes
the panel from anti-choice House appropriators
who twice proposed reinstating
the global gag rule. Unfortunately, the
amendment was not included in the final
In 2012, as we gear up for a critical presidential contest, the 112th Congress serves as a cautionary tale that illustrates the vital importance of elections in protecting our cherished rights. As we continue to fight back against the War on Women, we will persevere with fortitude and hope. We are guided always by our longtime commitment to women's safety and health, autonomy, and dignity, and to our belief in a world in which every child is welcome, wanted, and loved.