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Pro-Choice Netroots Blast Casey

By Jared Edgerton and Keegan Gibson

Senator Bob Casey is taking some flak from the netroots this week over his efforts to codify the Hyde Amendment and strengthen the so-called “conscience clause,” frequent policy priorities of pro-life advocates.

“Should the Democratic Party support anti-women politicians like Casey?” asked one blogger, “Or is it time to make our tent just a little smaller?”

Casey’s first bill, S.1488, seeks to codify the Hyde Amendment, which blocks federal funding of abortions except in cases rape or incest, or where the life of the mother is in danger. Casey’s other bill, S.1489, prohibits the discrimination and retaliation against individuals and health care entities that refuse to recommend, refer for, provide coverage for, pay for, provide, perform, assist, or participate in abortions.

“So in order to shore up his anti-choice street cred, Casey wants to make permanent the annually renewed Hyde Amendment that denies health care to low-income women,” wrote Kaili Joy Gray at DailyKos. “And he wants to protect the delicate flowers in the health care profession who think their bizarre interpretation of the Bible should trump their obligation to do their jobs and provide health care to women.”

“And this guy is a Democrat?”

Gray’s piece echoed that of Jodi Jacobson, the Editor-in-Chief at RH Reality Check.

“Election season is just barely underway, but Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA) is taking no chances.  He’s already using your body as election collateral to position himself as… a “conservative pro-life Democrat,’” she wrote.

“This week, when the world was aflurry with talk of debt ceilings, financial collapse and 9.2 percent unemployment, Senator Casey found time to introduce at least two bills seeking to further restrict women’s access to safe, legal abortion.  Just for good measure.”

Casey is no stranger to controversy over the abortion issue; he’s taken plenty of flack from pro-life groups as well. During the debate over health care reform, the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life group, aired ads attacking the Senator. He took further lumps over his vote against defunding Planned Parenthood.

Casey Communications Director Larry Smar, who has enjoyed many opportunities to answer questions on the subject, said there should be no confusion.

“Senator Casey is a pro-life Democrat who also knows that there is a consensus in this country to reduce the number of abortions.”

“These bills represent common-sense, common ground policies that have been passed with widespread support from both parties by previous Congresses to ensure federal funds are not used to cover abortions and that conscience rights for health care workers are protected.”

In addition to this legislation, Smar said, “Senator Casey has a record of supporting family planning programs that reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions.”

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