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President Obama Affirms Support for Roe as House Plans Vote on Antiabortion Bills

President Obama Affirms Support for Roe as House Plans Vote on Antiabortion Bills

January 23, 2014 — President Obama in a statement Wednesday commemorated the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade by reaffirming "the decision's guiding principle: that every woman should be able to make her own choices about her body and her health," USA Today's "The Oval" reports (Jackson, "The Oval," USA Today, 1/22).

"We reaffirm our steadfast commitment to protecting a woman's access to safe, affordable health care and her constitutional right to privacy, including the right to reproductive freedom," he said, adding that his administration resolves "to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, support maternal and child health, and continue to build safe and healthy communities for all our children" (Sink, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 1/22).

House GOP Pledges To Pass Antiabortion-Legislation

Meanwhile, House Republicans on Wednesday pledged to pass antiabortion-rights legislation this year, the Wall Street Journal reports.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) in a speech during the annual March for Life said the chamber will vote next week on an antiabortion-rights bill (HR 7) (Ballhaus, Wall Street Journal, 1/22). However, he acknowledged that bill likely faces an uphill battle in the Senate (Attias, CQ Roll Call, 1/22).

The bill includes several restrictions on abortion coverage, including a ban on the use of federal tax credits under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) by individuals who purchase health plans that include abortion coverage, as well as small businesses that offer such plans to their employees (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/16).

Cantor said another "top priority" this year is passing legislation that would ban abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy (Wall Street Journal, 1/22).

March for Life Attempts More 'Genteel' Tone

In related news, this year's March for Life focused on the theme of adoption and generally featured more "genteel messages" in an attempt to shift away from the movement's typically graphic slogans and imagery, the New York Times' "The Lede" reports.

Rick Santorum, a former GOP senator from Pennsylvania and 2012 presidential candidate, said the movement is now one "of love, not of judgment." Meanwhile, Pope Francis in a tweet offered his support for the rally (Southall, "The Lede," New York Times, 1/22).

Columnist: Antiabortion-Rights Stance Threatens GOP

"[L]ong before they make abortion illegal, Republicans will make themselves irrelevant, by choosing abortion bills over jobs bills and by validating Democratic claims of a GOP 'war on women,'" Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank writes.

He notes that while the "antiabortion faithful" assemble "year after year" at the March for Life, the nation's overall stance on abortion has remained relatively unchanged, based on polling data.

He adds that while conservatives have "made progress in states limiting access to abortion" -- with more than "50 such laws enacted" in 2013 -- the Supreme Court just last week "reaffirmed Roe in rejecting an Arizona law [HB 2036] that blocked abortions after 20 weeks" (Milbank, Washington Post, 1/22).