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Common ground measure would offer health care, nutrition, adoption assistance and other help for expectant mothers

WASHINGTON, DC- U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, has reintroduced legislation to provide assistance to pregnant women. 

“I believe there is more common ground in America than we might realize,” said Senator Casey.  “If only we focus on how we can truly help and support women who wish to carry their pregnancies to term and how we can give them and their babies what they really need to begin healthy and productive lives together.”

The Pregnant Women Support Act (S.270) contains a number of provisions to help expectant mothers and their children during their pregnancy and after they give birth.  The bill would help pregnant high school and college students stay in school.  It would help promote adoption.  The legislation also calls for increased health care and nutrition aid.

Senator Casey continued: “We must work toward real solutions to the issue of abortion by targeting the underlying factors that often lead women to have abortions.  This is precisely what the Pregnant Women Support Act will do.  I introduce this bill with the deepest conviction that we can find common ground.  I believe that we can transform this debate by focusing upon the issues that unite us, not the issues that divide us.”   

Senator Casey, a pro-life Democrat, has been an outspoken proponent of finding a consensus to reduce the number of abortions and finding common ground to reduce the number of abortions by helping expectant mothers, supporting family planning and assisting children after birth.

The Pregnant Women Support Act was developed in conjunction with the Democrats for Life 95-10 proposal to reduce the number of abortions by 95% within ten years.  Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) is a cosponsor of Senator Casey’s bill.  Senator Casey’s bill is similar to legislation that will be reintroduced in the U.S. House by Representative Lincoln Davis (D-TN).

A summary of the legislation is below:

This bill will:

Creates a new pilot program for “Life Support Centers” to offer comprehensive and supportive services for pregnant women, mothers, and children;
Assist pregnant and parenting teens to finish high school and prepare for college or vocational training;  

Help pregnant college students stay in school, offering them counseling as well as assistance with continuing their education, parenting support and classes, and child care assistance; 

Provide counseling and shelter to pregnant women in abusive relationships who may be fearful of continuing a pregnancy in a crisis situation; 

Establish a national toll-free number and public awareness campaign to offer women support and knowledge about options and resources available to them when they face an unplanned pregnancy; 

Give women free sonogram examinations by providing grants for the purchase of ultrasound equipment; 

Provide parents with information about genetic disability testing, including support for parents who receive a diagnosis of Down Syndrome; 

Ensure that pregnant women receive prenatal and postnatal care by eliminating pregnancy as a pre-existing condition in the individual healthcare market and also eliminating waiting periods for women with prior coverage; 

Establish nurse home visitation for pregnant and first time mothers as an eligible benefit under Medicaid and SCHIP.  One example of this is the Nurse-Family Partnership, an evidence-based program and national model in which nurses mentor young first-time and primarily low-income mothers, establishing a supportive relationship with both mother and child.  Studies have shown this program to be both cost effective and hugely successful in terms of life outcomes for both mothers and children; 

Increase funding for the Women, Infants and Children Program, providing nutrition assessment, counseling and education, obesity prevention, breastfeeding support, prenatal and pediatric health care referrals, immunization screening and referral, and a host of other services for mothers and children; 

Expand nutritional support for low-income parents by increasing the income eligibility level for food stamps; 

Increase funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, the primary source of federal funding for child care assistance for low-income parents; and 

Provide support for adoption as an alternative to abortion.


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