Dems Start Talking Like GOP On Abortion

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Weird things are happening to the abortion debate in America —- and not just because the Republican presidential front-runner is pro-choice. The Los Angeles Times reports today that Democrats have begun to adopt some of the language and policy goals of the anti-abortion movement.

Democrats in the House last week passed the Reducing the Need For Abortions Initiative, approving millions in new funding for what the LA Times calls "a grab bag of programs designed not only to prevent unwanted pregnancies, but also to encourage women who do conceive to carry to term." The paper cynically (but probably correctly) frames the measure as "a new approach" that Dems see as "an opportunity to impress religious voters —- and tip elections."

As an example of the kind of head-spinning new discourse surrounding the legislation, the LA Times quotes Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, a Democrat who opposes abortion, touting the bill as the first time his party is sending a forceful message to conflicted women: "Bring the baby to term, and we'll provide for you." A pending measure would fund day-care center on college campuses.

Will Unwanted Pregnancies Increase?

Perhaps such day care centers wouldn't be needed if Congress hadn't passed a bill last year that the Wall Street Journal reports today may increase unwanted pregnancies on college campuses.

For years, drug companies sold birth control pills to college health clinics at a discount. Young women could buy a month's worth of pills for $15 that would retail for $50 or more.

But now, thanks to the Deficit Reduction Act, the drug companies no longer offer the discounts. And the $50 price tags are forcing students to often switch their medication or give up their privacy by going on their parents' insurance. The bill is intended to shave $39 billion from spending on federal programs.

Health professionals fear the change will cause more unwanted pregnancies.

"One of the seminal concepts in contraceptive medicine is when a woman is using a method correctly and successfully, the last thing you want to do is change her from that," said Lee Shulman, board chairman of the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals. "You do not change her unless there is an absolute medical necessity to do so."

Better Care For Veterans

Most papers led today with the White House panel's call to overhaul veterans' medical care -- but only the Washington Post and New York Times mentioned the role the press played in spurring the changes.

Naturally the Washington Post had to toot its own horn a bit, having broken the story of the poor outpatient care and bureaucratic bungling at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The New York Times —- which devoted an entire public editor's column to smacking its forehead over getting scooped on the story -— also gave its Beltway rival a shoutout.

But both papers couched their crowing in realism. The Times writes that although "Mr. Bush has spent his presidency pledging support for the troops" and would looked like the worst kind of hypocrite if the problems with veterans' medical care continued, his track record on acting on the Iraq Study Group and September 11 Commission reports suggest that no one should get his hopes up.

The Post quoted White House spokesman Tony Snow saying that the president would not act immediately on the panel's advice: "He's not going to be making recommendations; he's not going to be issuing calls for actions."

An outcry from the commission's leaders and veterans' groups made the president change his tune by late afternoon.

Bush appeared on the White House South Lawn after going running with two soldiers who had lost legs in combat, and announced he that will move quickly on the commission's recommendations.

Money trees are becoming diseased

"The era of cheap money appears to be ending," reports the Washington Post in the latest morsel of dismal economic news spinning off from the spreading mortgage crisis.

Telltale signs seemed random -– from the plunging value of Expedia's stock in recent days to Chrystler's decision to postpone a $12 billion debt offering connected to its pending sale because of poor market conditions -– but they added up to a drying up of easy credit that's been buoying the economy in recent years. And it's going to get worse, according to the Post.

"The question is how far will the pain spread, and how many people will get hurt when it does." Ouch.

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