Posts tagged congress

Where conservatives differ on morality

While the leading Republican presidential candidates agree on many moral questions — from the divine foundation of ethics to the rejection of reproductive rights and marriage equality — new research suggests that the candidates differ when it comes to the focus their moral concerns.

According to the University of Southern California-run web site Election 2012, USC psychology professor Jesse Graham surveyed 35,000 self-identified conservatives and liberals to gauge their varying moral values (and by extension, those of their preferred candidates). What did he find?

Social conservatives, like Rick Santorum, care more about loyalty to family and nation, respect for tradition and authorities, and maintaining physical and spiritual purity. But libertarians, like Ron Paul, typically don’t care about these group-focused concerns. Their central moral value is liberty, according to Graham.

“Santorum has strongly endorsed the group-focused moral concerns of loyalty, respect, tradition and purity, even when politically disadvantageous (supporting government programs for families, going on about gay marriage when most voters care more about jobs). … Ron Paul has embodied the moralization of liberty above all other values, and he too has done so in ways that are politically disadvantageous (supporting legalization of all drugs, urging the dismantling of government agencies that no other nominee would suggest).”

Which leaves us to ponder an important question: is the difference between the Republican candidates’ moral inclinations one of degree, or one of kind?

Most give lawmakers poor ethics rating

A record 64 percent of Americans consider the honesty and ethical standards of members of Congress “low” or “very low,” according to a new survey from Gallup. The result matches the poll’s record “low”/”very low” rating, received by lobbyists in 2008. Gallup has measured the public’s perception of ethical standards in various profession since 1976.

To help put this finding into context with other professions, take a look at this chart:

And to help put the lawmakers’ rating in historical perspective, take a look at this:

House-approved abortion bill is doomed

In the most recent case of the Republican war on reproductive rights, the US House of Representatives last week approved a bill that would allow federally funded hospitals that oppose abortion to refuse to perform the procedure — even when a woman would die without it.

The bill, known as H.R. 358, would also ban federal funding for health care plans that merely include abortion coverage. This would go a step beyond existing law, which disallows federal dollars from being spent directly on abortions.

(Note: see my previous post on this bill here).

H.R. 358 passed 251-170 after an emotional debate on the House floor. One lawmaker, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), said she once faced a situation in which an abortion was medically necessary.

"I was pregnant, I was miscarrying, I was bleeding. … If I had to go from one hospital to the next trying to find one emergency room that would take me in, who knows if I would even be here today. What my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are trying to do is misogynist."

Fortunately, H.R. 358 is nothing more than an act of political grandstanding. The Democrat-controlled Senate will almost certainly reject the bill, and President Barack Obama has made it clear that he would veto it:

The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 358 because, as previously stated in the Statement of Administration Policy on H.R. 3, the legislation intrudes on women’s reproductive freedom and access to health care and unnecessarily restricts the private insurance choices that women and their families have today.

Longstanding Federal policy prohibits Federal funds from being used for abortions, except in cases of rape or incest, or when the life of the woman would be endangered. The Affordable Care Act preserved this prohibition and included policies to ensure that Federal funding is segregated from any private dollars used to fund abortions for which Federal funding is prohibited. The President’s Executive Order 13535 reinforces that Federal funding cannot be used for abortions (except in cases of rape or incest, or when the life of the woman would be endangered) and ensures proper enforcement of this policy. H.R. 358 goes well beyond the safeguards found in current law and reinforced in the President’s Executive Order by restricting women’s private insurance choices.

If the President is presented with H.R. 358, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.

That is good to hear, but I think most people would prefer if this bill never reached Obama’s desk to begin with. If you agree, the best thing to do is send a message to your Senator. You can find him or her by clicking here.

US House set to vote on abortion bill

The US House of Representatives is expected to vote Thursday on a bill that would allow federally funded hospitals that oppose abortion to refuse to perform the procedure — even when a woman would die without it.

From Laura Basset on The Huffington Post:

Under current law, every hospital that receives Medicare or Medicaid money is legally required to provide emergency care to any patient in need, regardless of his or her financial situation. If a hospital is unable to provide what the patient needs — including a life-saving abortion — it has to transfer the patient to a hospital that can.

Under H.R. 358, dubbed the “Protect Life Act” and sponsored by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), hospitals that don’t want to provide abortions could refuse to do so, even for a pregnant woman with a life-threatening complication that requires a doctor terminate her pregnancy. This provision would apply to the more than 600 Catholic hospitals governed by the Catholic Health Association, which are regulated by bishops and prohibited from performing abortions.

(Quick aside: how ironic that a bill that could lead to the death of women is named the “Protect Life Act.”)

As Basset notes, H.R. 358 would also ban federal funding for health care plans that merely include abortion coverage. This would go a step beyond existing law, which disallows federal dollars from being spent directly on abortions.

If you want to tell your House representative to vote no on this proposed legislation, check out these already formatted action alerts from the American Civil Liberties Union, National Women’s Law Center, or the American Humanist Association. Or, click here to find your local representative and send your own message.