It's Not a `Spectacle,' It's Simply Democracy Working as It's Supposed To
In her article on the freshman class in congress ("GOP freshmen mellowing as elections near," Nation, Feb. 7) Congressional Quarterly reporter Jackie Koszczuk characterizes some unspecified votes in the House in 1995 as "often demanded floor votes on divisive issues such as abortion when the proposals in question had no hope of winning enactment."
Before addressing the obvious inaccuracies in this latter statement, let me ask, what counts as a "spectacle"? A dictionary at hand defines a "spectacle" as "a regrettable public display." While Ms. Koszczuk's report is ambiguous about the nature of most of the votes that she believes fall in this category, she clearly intends to place members' efforts to save the lives of unborn children squarely among these "regrettable public displays." Well, we can be sure they won't be regretted by the boys and girls who might otherwise have been aborted.
Ms. Koszczuk was also wrong factually. Out of 17 floor votes on abortion-related issues in 1995, in 15 of which the pro-life position prevailed, only one freshman ever initiated a vote, and he is not opposed to abortion. Five votes were on amendments offered by pro-abortion Republicans, four on amendments from pro-abortion Democrats and six on amendments from senior pro-life Republicans. The two remaining votes were on final passage of two bills.
Are most of the House freshman pro-life and do they want to restore pro-life policies that were jettisoned in 1993 and 1994 by the Clinton administration? You bet. But this majority simply makes the effort to reinstate these pro-life provisions successful, not spectacles or "divisive" in the negative sense that Ms. Koszczuk chose to portray them.
Of the nine policy changes debated in these 17 votes, three have become law: restrictions - in both authorization and appropriations bills - on the use of military facilities for abortions; a prohibition on abortion coverage in federal employees' health benefit plans; and a prohibitions on the use of federal funds to pay for abortions for federal prisoners. …