Dianne Feinstein on Abortion

Last Updated : Sep 21, 2012

Summary

Senator Feinstein is strongly pro-choice. She supports taxpayer funding for abortions, and has often referred to restrictions on abortion or taxpayer restrictions as going back in time. She has opposed bans on the practice of partial-birth abortion claiming that they either do not have exceptions for the health of the mother or are too vaguely worded to ensure that they will not make all abortions illegal. She has offered her own legislation to outlaw all third trimester abortions unless the health of the mother is threatened. She supports government funding for abortions and has referred to that as moral as abortion is legal within the United States.

Roe Vs Wade

Senator Feinstein has often spoke about the constitutional right to an abortion acknowledged in the Roe vs Wade decision. In 2003, Senator Feinstein spoke on the Senate floor in support of Roe vs Wade. She recalled her time in college when a fellow student committed suicide after becoming pregnant and had no options. She also stated that at one point a hat was passed around the dorm to collect money for a woman to travel to Mexico and receive and abortion. In that same speech, she remembered sentencing a woman who violated the law and performed abortions while they were still illegal because the women who came to her had no other alternatives. These stories were repeated in a 2007 town hall in which she urged modern women who had only known a world where abortion was an option to become more politically active to keep the option in place.

Government Funding for Abortions

When President Bush acted to remove funds from UN programs that were accused of promoting abortion in 2002, Senator Feinstein opposed the move. She stated that healthy families were the heart of any healthy society and depended upon women being able to make informed choices. She stated that the United Nations Fund for Population Activities helps women do just that--make a choice--which she held to be a fundamental right of women everywhere, regardless of their economic circumstances. She argued that there was no evidence that the fund was providing abortions.

In 2009, Senator Feinstein opposed the Nelson amendment to the health care reform bill which have prevented any plan receiving government funds from providing abortion. She argued that as long as the abortion section of the premium was paid by the person in question then the funds were adequately segregated. She called the Nelson amendment an unprecedented restriction on a woman's right to use her own money to purchase health care coverage that would cover abortions.

Later that year, Senator Feinstein was asked if it was morally acceptable to require a person who opposed abortion to pay for those procedures through taxation. She responded that it was indeed since abortion was a legal action.

In 2012, Senator Feinstein opposed attempts to again remove abortion coverage from any plan covering abortion, calling the Blunt amendment a threat to women's health care. She repeated a comparison to churchs that receive government funds but segregate those charitable portions that receive those funds from the religious aspects of the church for tax reasons. She asserted that if these institutions were adequately segregated, then the taxpayer portions of the health care plans were equally removed from the abortion coverage.

Partial-Birth Abortion

Senator Feinstein voted against the partial-birth abortion bans in 1995, 1997, 2000, and 2003. She stated that her opposition to the legislation was based on the view that the legislation was written too broadly, that the procedure of a "partial-birth abortion" was not defined, and that it could be interpreted to allow for charges to be pressed against any doctor that performed an abortion. She offered a bill that would ban any third-trimester abortion in which the doctor did not have a proper medical reason for the abortion.

UVVA

In 2005, Senator Feistein voted against the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. In floor debates concerning the legislation, she asserted that the Republican version of the bill attempted to defined life as beginning at conception, and that this language could be used to eventully outlaw all abortion once codified into law.

Legislative History

Numerous times throughout her career, Senator Feinsten has supported the Freedom of Choice Act to protect Roe vs Wade. She has also co-sponsored legislation to ensure that international organizations are not denied US aid funds because they provide abortions. She has also co-sponsored legislation for sexual education and Title X family planning which provides funds for organizations like planned parenthood.

 

Alternative to Partial-Birth Ban

In 1997, Senator Feinstein spoke on the Senate floor and laid out an alternative to the bill presented by Republicans. She asserted that this alternative plan would prevent any third trimester abortion unless there was compelling proof that it was medically necessary.

 

Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act

In February of 1999, Senator Feinstein spoke on the Senate floor in opposition to legislation to make partial-birth abortion illegal. She asserted that she opposed it on the grounds that the legislation was written too broadly and had no exceptions for the health of the mother.

 

Opposition to Removing Family Planning Funds

In 2002, Senator Feinstein spoke on the Senate floor in opposition to a Bush policy to remove funds from UN entities on the grounds that those entities are performing or endorsing abortions.

 

Support for Roe vs Wade

In 2003, Senator Feinstein spoke on the Senate floor in support of the Roe vs Wade decision.

 

Unborn Victims of Violence Act

In March of 2004, Senator Feinstein spoke on the Senate floor attempting to amend a piece of legislation that would clarify some issues in the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. She asserts that the Republican led bill attempts to insert wording into the law that defines life as beginning at conception and that this is why she opposes the legislation.

 

Child Custody Protection Act

In July of 2006, Senator Feinstein released a press statement noting her opposition and vote against the Child Custody Protection Act.

 

Support for Partial Birth Abortion

In January of 2006, Senator Feinstein released a statement noting her support for a recent Supreme Court ruling that determined that the partial birth abortion ban of 2003 was unconstitutional. 

 

Reaction to Supreme Court Decision

In April of 2008, Senator Feinstein released a press statement noting her opposition to a recent supreme court decision concerning abortion.

 

Telephone Town Hall

In November of 2007, Senator Feinstein participated in a telephone town hall that was organized by the Center for Reproductive Rights. She issued a press statement with a partial transcript.

 

Floor Speech in Opposition to Nelson Amendment

On December 8, 2009 Senator Feinstein spoke on the Senate floor in opposition to the Nelson amendment.

 

Statement Opposition to the Nelson Amendment

In December of 2009, Senator Feinstein released a press statement noting a floor speech she gave to note her opposition to the Nelson amendment and her support for  federal funding of abortion.

 

CNS News Interview

In December of 2009, Senator Feinstein was approached by a reporter from CNS News and asked if it was moral to require taxpayers to pay for abortion through health care plans. Senator Feinstein stated that it was indeed moral.

 

Discussion on Women's Health Care

On February 7, 2012 Senator Feinstein spoke on the Senate floor about a number of current events related to women's health care and reproductive choices. In that speech, she asserts that there is a block between taxpayer funds and abortion.

 

Voting Record

Amendment - Funds to coercive abortions

On March 2, 2009, Senator Wicker submitted amendment SA 607. The amendment was made to the omnibus appropriations act for fiscal year 2009, and it sought to ensure that money which was sent to the United Nations from the US was not used in programs the sought to limit populations through forced sterilization or coercive abortion. The amendment specifically mentions the programs in China. Most Republicans supported the amendment and most Democrats opposed it. The amendment failed 55-39. Dianne Feinstein voted against the amendment to prevent aid funds from being used for coercive abortions.

Dianne Feinstein voted against the amendment to prevent aid funds from being used for coercive abortions.

Amendment - SCHIP and unborn children

On March 14, 2008 the Senate attempted to pass an amendment to the congressional budget for 2008. The amendment was to clarify the definition of a child for SCHIP purposes. SCHIP is the State Children\'s Health Insurance Program. The program covers children up to the age of 18 with health care. Although the program is funded by the federal government, implementation of the program is left up to the states. Many states provide health care to pregnant women above the age of 18, but justify the care as necessary for the health of the unborn child. This amendment sought to clarify such legislation by establishing a sets of codes for when such care can be given by the states. It is an attempt to put into writing when the pregnancy is considered a "child" and therefore enters into the realm of abortion as designating an embryo as a child for the purposes of giving it care under SCHIP would also imply that an abortion at or later than that time would amount to the killing of a child, and not an undefined mass of cells. The amendment failed to pass with most Republicans supporting it and most Democrats opposing it in roll call 81. Those supporting the bill can be seen as attempting to establish when the definition of a "child" can be given to a developing fetus. Dianne Feinstein voted against the amendment to define a child for SCHIP purposes.

Dianne Feinstein voted against the amendment to define a child for SCHIP purposes.

Amendment - Funding for enforcement

Congress has passed laws which prohibit an adult from taking a minor across state lines when the state laws require parental consent for an abortion. On March 13, 2008 the Senate voted on an amendment for funding of "vigorous enforcement" of the law. The amendment got the support of most Republicans and the opposition of most Democrats. If failed in a 49-49 vote. Dianne Feinstein voted against the amendment to provide funding to enforce abortion laws.

Dianne Feinstein voted against the amendment to provide funding to enforce abortion laws.

Amendment to Prohibit Funds

In October of 2007, the Senate voted on an amendment to prohibit funds from being dispersed to groups that encourage or perform abortions. The measure failed to pass the Senate 41-52. Dianne Feinstein voted against the amendment.

Dianne Feinstein voted against the amendment.

Amendment - funds to abortion providers

Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas placed an amendment into the Consolidated Appropriations spending bill to ensure that funding did not go to groups that may support coercive abortion. The amendment failed in a 48-45 vote. Dianne Feinstein voted against the amendment to ensure that funding does not go to abortion providers.

Dianne Feinstein voted against the amendment to ensure that funding does not go to abortion providers.

Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act

The second vote on the legislation came as the bill returned from the US House. In roll call 263, supporters of the bill failed to get the 60 votes required for cloture. The bill did not proceed further as most Republicans supported the legislation and most Democrats oppossed it. Dianne Feinstein oppossed the Notification Act by voting against cloture.

Dianne Feinstein oppossed the Notification Act by voting against cloture.

Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act

There have been 2 votes in the Senate concerning the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act S 403. The Act prohibited transporting a minor child across a state line to obtain an abortion. There was an exception in the bill if the life of the mother was at risk, and those transporting the minor could not be prosecuted if there was reason to believe that the transporters were under the impression that permission had been given from the minor\'s parents. The first vote on this bill came as the bill passed through the Senate. The bill passed the senate in a 54-34 vote with most Republicans supporting it, and about 1/3 of Democrats supporting it. Dianne Feinstein cast a "No Vote"

Unborn Victims of Violence Act

The Unborn Victim\'s of Violence Act of 2004 (also known as Laci and Connor\'s Law) provides that persons who commit certain Federal violent crimes and thereby cause the death of, or bodily injury to, a child who is in utero shall be guilty of a separate offense. The bill came up vote a vote in March of 2004, and passed with the support of a vast majority of Republicans and about 1/3 of the Democrats. Dianne Feinstein voted against the Unborn Victims of Violence Act.

Dianne Feinstein voted against the Unborn Victims of Violence Act.

Partial Birth Abortion

In 1999 the US Senate voted to ban Partial Birth Abortions. The bill defined the term "partial birth abortion" and then made it a crime for a physician to commit such an act. The act defined partial birth abortion as an abortion in which the person performing the abortion deliberately and intentionally: vaginally delivers some portion of an intact living fetus until the fetus is partially outside the body of the mother, for the purpose of performing an overt act that the person knows will kill the fetus while the fetus is partially outside the mother's body; performs the overt act that kills the fetus while the intact living fetus is partially outside the mother's body. The bill initially passed the Senate in Roll Call 51 in 2003. Dianne Feinstein voted against the 2003 ban when it initially came up in the Senate.

Dianne Feinstein voted against the 2003 ban when it initially came up in the Senate.

Expressing the Sense of the Senate in Roe vs Wade

In March of 2003, the Senate voted on a sense of the Senate resolution affirming their support for the Supreme court's decision in Roe vs Wade. The measure passed the Senate 52-46. Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the measure and supported Roe vs Wade.

Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the measure and supported Roe vs Wade.

Partial Birth Abortion

The 2003 Partial Birth Abortion Ban defined the term as an abortion in which the person performing the abortion: deliberately and intentionally vaginally delivers a living fetus until, in the case of a head-first presentation, the entire fetal head is outside the mother's body, or, in the case of a breech presentation, any part of the fetal trunk past the navel is outside the mother's body; performs the overt act, other than completion of delivery, that kills the partially delivered living fetus. The bill was voted on separately and in a conference report. Dianne Feinstein voted against the 2003 ban when it came up in the conference report.

Dianne Feinstein voted against the 2003 ban when it came up in the conference report.

Partial Birth Abortion

After the 2000 Partial Birth Abortion Bill passed the Senate, it went over to the House and was voted on again in roll call 402 to pass the conference report which was the compilation of the bills in the House and Senate. Dianne Feinstein voted against the 2000 ban.

Dianne Feinstein voted against the 2000 ban.

Roe vs Wade

As part of the 1999 partial birth abortion ban, an amendment was introduced to express the sense of the senate in expressing support for Roe vs Wade. The amendment was supported by a majority of Democrats and a few Republicans The amendment passed in a 51-47 vote. Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the amendment and thus supported Roe vs Wade.

Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the amendment and thus supported Roe vs Wade.

Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 1997

In May of 1997, the Senate passed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 1997 in a 64-36 vote. The Senate did not have the numbers to overturn a Presidential veto. Dianne Feinstein voted against the ban.

Dianne Feinstein voted against the ban.

Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 1995

In December of 1995, the Senate passed the partial-birth abortion ban act 54-44. The legislation was vetoed by President Clinton. Dianne Feinstein voted against the ban.

Dianne Feinstein voted against the ban.

 

Sponsored and Cosponsored Legislation

Session-111; Bill Number-S 21; Prevention First Act - Cosponsor

Title X Family Planning Services Act of 2009 - Authorizes appropriations for family planning services grants and contracts under the Public Health Service Act (PHSA). Equity in Prescription Insurance and Contraceptive Coverage Act of 2007 [sic]- Amends the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and PHSA to prohibit a group health plan from excluding or restricting benefits for prescription contraceptive drugs, devices, and outpatient services if the plan provides benefits for other outpatient prescription drugs, devices, or outpatient services. Applies such prohibitions to coverage offered in the individual market. Emergency Contraception Education Act of 2009 - Directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop and disseminate information on emergency contraception to the public and to health care providers. Compassionate Assistance for Rape Emergencies Act of 2009 - Requires hospitals, as a condition of receiving federal funds, to offer and to provide, upon request, emergency contraception to victims of sexual assault. At-Risk Communities Teen Pregnancy Prevention Act of 2009 - Authorizes the Secretary to award grants for teenage pregnancy prevention programs. Requires the Secretary to award grants for teenage pregnancy prevention research. Truth in Contraception Act of 2009 - Requires that any information concerning the use of a contraceptive provided through specified federally funded education programs be medically accurate and include health benefits and failure rates. Unintended Pregnancy Reduction Act of 2009 - Amends title XIX (Medicaid) of the Social Security Act to expand Medicaid's coverage of family planning services. Responsible Education About Life Act of 2009 - Requires the Secretary to make grants to states for family life education, including education on abstinence and contraception, to prevent teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Prevention Through Affordable Access Act - Expands Medicaid rebates to manufacturers for the sale of covered outpatient drugs at nominal prices to include sales to student health care facilities and entities offering family planning services.

Session-111; Bill Number-S 611; Responsible Education About Life Act - Cosponsor

Authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services to make grants to states for sex education programs, including education on abstinence and contraception, to prevent teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Expresses the sense of Congress that states are encouraged, although not required, to provide matching funds to receive such grants. Requires the Secretary to provide for a national evaluation of a representative sample of such programs for effectiveness in delaying the initiation of sexual intercourse and other high-risk behaviors, preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease, and increasing contraceptive knowledge and behavior. Requires states receiving such grants to provide for an individual evaluation of the state's program by an external, independent entity. Prohibits such programs from discriminating on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, national origin, disability, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Session-110; Bill Number-S 1173; Freedom of Choice Act - Cosponsor

A bill to protect, consistent with Roe v. Wade, a woman's freedom to choose to bear a child or terminate a pregnancy, and for other purposes.

Session-109; Bill Number-S 2593; Freedom of Choice Act - Cosponsor

A bill to protect, consistent with Roe v. Wade, a woman's freedom to choose to bear a child or terminate a pregnancy, and for other purposes.

Session-110; Bill Number-S 21; Prevention First Act - Title X Family Planning Services Act of 2007 - Cosponsor

A bill to expand access to preventive health care services that help reduce unintended pregnancy, reduce abortions, and improve access to women's health care.

Session-112; Bill Number-S 1415; Access to Birth Control Act - Cosponsor

Amends the Public Health Service Act to require pharmacies to comply with certain rules related to contraceptives, including: (1) providing a customer a contraceptive without delay if it is in stock; (2) immediately informing a customer if the contraceptive is not in stock and either transferring the prescription to a pharmacy that has the contraceptive in stock or expediting the ordering of the contraceptive and notifying the customer when it arrives, based on customer preference, except for pharmacies that do not ordinarily stock contraceptives in the normal course of business; and (3) ensuring that pharmacy employees do not take certain actions relating to a request for contraception, including intimidating, threatening, or harassing customers, interfering with or obstructing the delivery of services, intentionally misrepresenting or deceiving customers about the availability of contraception or its mechanism of action, breaching or threatening to breach medical confidentiality, or refusing to return a valid, lawful prescription. Provides that a pharmacy is not prohibited from refusing to provide a contraceptive to a customer if: (1) it is unlawful to dispense the contraceptive to the customer without a valid, lawful prescription and no such prescription is presented; (2) the customer is unable to pay for the contraceptive; or (3) the employee of the pharmacy refuses to provide the contraceptive on the basis of a professional clinical judgment. Provides that this Act does not preempt state law or any professional obligation of a state board that provides greater protections for customers. Sets forth civil penalties and establishes a a private cause of action for violations of this Act.

Session-111; Bill Number-S 311; Global Democracy Promotion Act - Cosponsor

Declares that foreign nongovernmental organizations: (1) shall not be ineligible for assistance under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 solely on the basis of health or medical services (including counseling and referral services) provided by them with non-U.S. government funds if such services do not violate the laws of the country in which they are being provided, and would not violate U.S. federal law if provided in the United States; and (2) shall not be subject to requirements relating to the use of non-U.S. government funds for advocacy and lobbying activities other than those that apply to U.S. nongovernmental organizations receiving such assistance.

Session-106; Bill Number-S 1200; Equity in Prescription Insurance and Contraceptive Coverage Act of 1999 - Cosponsor

A bill to require equitable coverage of prescription contraceptive drugs and devices, and contraceptive services under health plans.

Session-103; Bill Number-S 25; Freedom of Choice Act of 1993 - Cosponsor

Provides that a State may not restrict the right of a woman to choose to terminate a pregnancy before fetal viability. Allows a State to: (1) restrict the freedom of a woman to chose to terminate a pregnancy after viability unless the termination is necessary to protect the life or health of the woman; and (2) impose requirements on abortions if the requirements are necessary to protect the life or health of the woman. Declares that nothing in this Act shall be construed to prevent a State from: (1) protecting individuals or private health care institutions from having to participate in abortions to which they are conscientiously opposed; (2) declining to pay for abortions; or (3) requiring minors to involve responsible adults before terminating a pregnancy.

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