Chicago Tribune Examines Abortion-Related Positions Of Democratic Party Leaders

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Although there has been "no serious discussion"among Democratic leaders about "moving away from the party'slong-standing support of abortion rights," some moderates have urgedthe "party to more aggressively press a message that Democrats wouldwork to reduce the number of abortions," the Chicago Tribune reports.Since 1998, the country has been "fairly evenly divided" on abortionrights, and most people in the U.S. say that abortion should be legalin "some but not all circumstances;" however, there is "significantdisagreement on how broadly the procedure should be permitted,"according to the Tribune.

Democrats during the2006 election supported and recruited some antiabortion candidatesacross the country. Congressional Democrats have focused on a"prevention" agenda, which includes increased access to contraceptives,sex education with information on contraception, and increased supportand assistance for pregnant women and new mothers, the Tribune reports.Democrats have tried to "sharpen distinctions" with social conservativeRepublicans on these issues, for instance, by challenging the Bushadministration over FDA's delayed approval of Barr Laboratories' application for nonprescription sales of its emergency contraceptive Plan B to women ages 18 and older, the Tribune reports.

According to the Tribune, all of the leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination support Roe v. Wade,the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court case that effectively barred state abortionbans, and none of the leading candidates has said he or she supports afederal banon so-called "partial-birth" abortion. However, the "front-runners inparticular have been hurrying to move the conversation to saferground," the Tribune reports.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) last week at a Planned Parenthood Action Fund forum emphasized increased access to sex education and contraception, while Sen. Barack Obama(D-Ill.) said that increased access to sex education and contraceptionshould be tied with initiatives such as longer school days and paidmaternity leave that help two-income families. According to the Tribune, former Sen. John Edwards(D-N.C.) is "appealing to the left wing of the party" by "unabashedly"supporting the views of abortion rights-advocates (Dorning, Chicago Tribune, 7/22).

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Obama, Edwards Answer Question on Sex Education at Debate

Obama and Edwards on Monday at a Democratic presidential debate at the Citadelmilitary college in Charleston, S.C., answered a question from aPlanned Parenthood staff member in Pennsylvania about whether they haddiscussed sex with their children using "medically accurate andage-appropriate information," the Los Angeles Times reports.

Edwardssaid, "We've taught our younger children when they were young how tolook for the signs of wrong touching ... inappropriate touching." Headded, "And we've taught our children as they got older all -- I thinkusing medically appropriate terms -- all that they needed to know to beproperly educated" (Barabak/Finnegan, Los Angeles Times, 7/24). Obama also said he has talked to his six- and nine-year-old daughters about inappropriate touching, the Tribune.

Obama also responded to comments made last week by former Gov. Mitt Romney, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, about sex education (Parsons/McCormick, Chicago Tribune,7/24). Romney last week criticized Obama for supporting a 2003 measurein the Illinois Legislature that would have allowed age-appropriate sexeducation for children as young as kindergartners. Obama in 2003 was astate senator and chair of a committee that approved a bill that wouldhave changed Illinois sex education regulations to include instructionof any grade (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 7/20).

"Ironically,this was actually a proposal [Romney] said he supported when he wasrunning for governor of Massachusetts," Obama said Tuesday, adding,"Apparently, he forgot" (Chicago Tribune, 7/24). According to the Times, Obama and Edwards were the only Democratic candidates to respond to the question about sex education (Los Angeles Times, 7/24).
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Reprinted with permission fromkaisernetwork.org.You can view the entire KaiserDaily Women's Health Policy Report, search thearchives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report is published forkaisernetwork.org,a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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