Gag rule is unconstitutional, slights well-being of women

Led by the iconic and oxymoronic faith-based Family Research Council, 80 organizations signed a letter to the president to reinstate a domestic version of the “global gag rule.” The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reported on the letter-to-come in the article “Bush pushed by conservatives to impose anti-abortion regulation” (May 6).

The gag rule prohibits funding of family planning organizations that make abortion referrals or operate abortion facilities. Implemented in 1988, the domestic gag rule was intended to cut off funding to pro-choice family planning clinics.

More than 90 percent of American families use modern birth control methods during their reproductive lives.

Opposition to contraception exists in a small sliver of the population. It also seems that hindering access to contraception will increase unwanted pregnancies and abortions, and it seems that freedom of speech is a fundamental American right, so using federal grant power to punish organizations that give women comprehensive, accurate medical information or that advocate for access to safe and legal abortion services, would be a fundamental infringement on constitutional liberty.

But organizations driven by ideology, thirst for power, and controversy-as-fundraising-opportunity like the Family Research Council, Eagle Forum, Concerned Women for America, their allies and even some of their opponents constantly crank up the volume for a political theological debate that would more wisely be conducted as a rational discussion about what is best for maternal and child health — especially during National Women’s Health Week.

In my visit to the Capitol this week to present reproductive health policy recommendations to our congressional delegation, one point I will make is that the Family Research Council and their allies could be advocating for access to birth control, like emergency contraception, thereby preventing unwanted pregnancies and preventing abortions. They could be advocating for greater access to HPV vaccination because it prevents cervical cancer.

They could be advocating for more resources to fund comprehensive sex education because accurate knowledge about pregnancy and STD prevention combined with access to contraceptives and healthcare improves public health outcomes.

But they’re not. They’re not because the Family Research Council doesn’t do research, and the Concerned Women for America is not concerned about women.

Wausau, Wis.

Verifiable merit

From Reps. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Heath Shuler (D-N.C.)

The May 7 op-ed “Don’t tie student employment program to E-Verify” contained an inaccurate and unfair assessment of E-Verify. For the last decade, E-Verify has provided American employers with a way to ensure that they are hiring a legal workforce.

The accuracy of the Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security databases that E-Verify utilizes has been maligned. However, the facts about these databases are irrefutable. Persons eligible to work receive immediate confirmation 99.4 percent of the time. For the native-born, 99.9 percent receive immediate confirmation; for employees born outside of the U.S., 97 percent receive immediate confirmation.

The op-ed repeats allegations that the Social Security Administration’s inspector general has found the agency’s database to be inaccurate. However, the inspector general actually stated, “We applaud the Agency on the accuracy of the data we tested.”

Finally, the op-ed promotes H.R. 5515, the New Employee Verification Act, as an alternative to E-Verify. Rep. Sam JohnsonSamuel (Sam) Robert JohnsonLoss of Ryan hits hard for House Republicans Watchdog: Social Security acting head hasn't been authorized to serve for months Five things to watch for in Texas primaries MORE’s (R-Texas) bill does represent a valid alternative verification system that Congress should consider. However, the op-ed undercuts its own argument in favor of H.R. 5515.  The New Employee Verification Act would in the end rely on the same Social Security Administration database that the author attacks in the op-ed!