Is the Health Care Bill Boxer’s “Missouri Compromise?”

Rebecca Sive

Boxer supported a Senate bill that endorses a return to pre-Roe days when women had to shop around the states in order to obtain a legal abortion. Is this bill her Missouri compromise?

"A house divided against itself cannot stand."  Abraham Lincoln.

“When you have both extremes saying they’re unhappy, I think it’s [the Senate’s December 21, 2009 healthcare bill] a fair compromise," Mrs. Boxer said.

Well, Senator, Boxer, I have two words for you: Missouri Compromise.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

How preposterous is what Senator Boxer said to the nation today?  Let me count the ways.

Senator Boxer:  Just because:

  • people disagree, doesn’t mean each side has an equally valid argument.
  • you made a compromise, doesn’t mean you made good public policy.
  • you wrote a bill that 60 people voted for, doesn’t mean it’s a good bill.
  • you helped women somewhat, doesn’t mean you helped them enough.


And, Senator Boxer: Just because you made a compromise today and everyone’s equally unhappy today doesn’t mean that those who need help will get help, either today, or at any point in the near future.

Just review today’s history lesson, the one about the Missouri Compromise, to see how well that strategy worked:  Remember the Missouri Compromise? Well, it, and the compromises that followed it, didn’t lead to more freedom for the slaves; they led to less, and then to the Civil War.

Here are the particulars: The 1820 Missouri Compromise divided the Louisiana Purchase territory, much of the western and southern parts of the United States at the time, into a nation “half slave and half free.”  If the state was below the Mason Dixon line, it could have slaves; if it was above, it couldn’t.

But, surprise, surprise. Things didn’t get better as a result of this compromise; they got worse, culminating in the Supreme Court’s 1857 Dred Scott decision, opening the door to legal slavery in all the states because, in the view of the Court, African Americans were property, not people, and, thus, protected by the U.S. Constitution.

By 1858, in his immortal “House Divided” speech, Abraham Lincoln, then running for the U.S. Senate against Stephen Douglas, (one of the great compromisers of American history), pointed-out why the compromises proposed by the U.S. Senate, following the Dred Scott decision, wouldn’t work either.

Lincoln summarized his view by saying: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.

Lincoln was right: Two years later, our nation was a house divided, a people at war over the issue of slavery, that issue for which no number of compromises would ever work (keep reading).

It took 99 more years to put into law the equality the Constitution hadn’t brought to African Americans.

Well, Senator Boxer:  Will American women have to wait 99 years to get equal footing with men because of the compromises you’ve made?

Senator Boxer: If, by some chance, you’re not aware of the implications of your compromise, read this summary.

It’s horrifying: at bottom, you’ve endorsed a return to pre-Roe days when women had to shop around the states in order to obtain a legal abortion—it reminds me of the Senators who came before you creating a shopping list of states to benefit those who wanted to own slaves.

This is pretty damn damning, if you ask me.

Senator Boxer:  What did you think you were doing when you sat there with the big boys? It boggles the mind.

“Even Lincoln’s friends believed the speech (the “House Divided” speech) was too radical for the occasion. His law partner, William H. Herndon, thought that Lincoln was morally courageous but politically incorrect. [But] Herndon said Lincoln told him he was looking for a universally known figure of speech that would rouse people to the peril of the times.

Lincoln was willing to make the speech and lose the election, as he did. He didn’t give up. Neither should you.

Senator Boxer, I quote Lincoln to rouse you to the peril of (these) times:  

“We did this (fight the American Revolution) under the single impulse of resistance to a common danger, with every external circumstance against us. Of strange, discordant, and even hostile elements, we gathered from the four winds, and formed and fought the battle through….Did we brave all them to falter now? …We shall not fail-if we stand firm….Wise counsels may accelerate, or mistakes delay it, but, sooner or later, the victory is sure to come.”

Senator Boxer:  Heed Lincoln’s wise counsel:  Respond to today’s “common danger,” the danger to American women that this Senate healthcare bill poses. Become morally courageous, even politically incorrect, and lead your sister Senators in a “single impulse of resistance” against this morally bankrupt compromise.

News Abortion

Pennsylvania’s TRAP Law Could Be the Next to Go Down

Teddy Wilson

The Democrats' bill would repeal language from a measure that targets abortion clinics, forcing them to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical facilities.

A Pennsylvania lawmaker on Wednesday introduced a bill that would repeal a state law requiring abortion clinics to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical facilities (ASF). The bill comes in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling striking down a similar provision in Texas’ anti-choice omnibus law known as HB 2.

A similar so-called targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) law was passed in Pennsylvania in 2011 with bipartisan majorities in both the house and state senate, and was signed into law by former Gov. Tom Corbett (R).

SB 1350, sponsored by Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery) would repeal language from Act 122 that requires abortion clinics to meet ASF regulations. The text of the bill has not yet been posted on the state’s legislative website.

The bill is co-sponsored by state Sens. Art Haywood (D-Philadelphia), Larry Farnese (D-Philadelphia), and Judy Schwank (D-Berks).

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

Leach said in a statement that there has been a “nationwide attack on patients and their doctors,” but that the Supreme Court’s ruling upholds the constitutionally protected right to terminate a pregnancy.

“Abortion is a legal, Constitutionally-protected right that should be available to all women,” Leach said. “Every member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly swore an oath to support, obey and defend the Constitution of the United States, so we must act swiftly to repeal this unconstitutional requirement.”

TRAP laws, which single out abortion clinics and providers and subject them to regulations that are more stringent than those applied to medical clinics, have been passed in several states in recent years.

However, the Supreme Court’s ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt that struck down two of the provisions in HB 2 has already had ramifications on similar laws passed in other states with GOP-held legislatures.

The Supreme Court blocked similar anti-choice laws in Wisconsin and Mississippi, and Alabama’s attorney general announced he would drop an appeal to a legal challenge of a similar law.

News Abortion

Reproductive Justice Groups Hit Back at RNC’s Anti-Choice Platform

Michelle D. Anderson

Reproductive rights and justice groups are greeting the Republican National Convention with billboards and media campaigns that challenge anti-choice policies.

Reproductive advocacy groups have moved to counter negative images that will be displayed this week during the Republican National Convention (RNC) in Cleveland, while educating the public about anti-choice legislation that has eroded abortion care access nationwide.

Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee for president, along with Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R), Trump’s choice for vice president, have supported a slew of anti-choice policies.

The National Institute for Reproductive Health is among the many groups bringing attention to the Republican Party’s anti-abortion platform. The New York City-based nonprofit organization this month erected six billboards near RNC headquarters and around downtown Cleveland hotels with the message, “If abortion is made illegal, how much time will a person serve?”

The institute’s campaign comes as Created Equal, an anti-abortion organization based in Columbus, Ohio, released its plans to use aerial advertising. The group’s plan was first reported by The Stream, a conservative Christian website.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

The site reported that the anti-choice banners would span 50 feet by 100 feet and seek to “pressure congressional Republicans into defunding Planned Parenthood.” Those plans were scrapped after the Federal Aviation Administration created a no-fly zone around both parties’ conventions.

Created Equal, which was banned from using similar messages on a large public monitor near the popular Alamo historic site in San Antonio, Texas, in 2014, did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

Andrea Miller, president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health, said in an interview with Rewire that Created Equal’s stance and tactics on abortion show how “dramatically out of touch” its leaders compared to where most of the public stands on reproductive rights. Last year, a Gallup poll suggested half of Americans supported a person’s right to have an abortion, while 44 percent considered themselves “pro-life.”

About 56 percent of U.S. adults believe abortion care should be legal all or most of the time, according to the Pew Research Center’s FactTank.

“It’s important to raise awareness about what the RNC platform has historically endorsed and what they have continued to endorse,” Miller told Rewire.

Miller noted that more than a dozen women, like Purvi Patel of Indiana, have been arrested or convicted of alleged self-induced abortion since 2004. The billboards, she said, help convey what might happen if the Republican Party platform becomes law across the country.

Miller said the National Institute for Reproductive Health’s campaign had been in the works for several months before Created Equal announced its now-cancelled aerial advertising plans. Although the group was not aware of Created Equal’s plans, staff anticipated that intimidating messages seeking to shame and stigmatize people would be used during the GOP convention, Miller said.

The institute, in a statement about its billboard campaign, noted that many are unaware of “both the number of anti-choice laws that have passed and their real-life consequences.” The group unveiled an in-depth analysis looking at how the RNC platform “has consistently sought to make abortion both illegal and inaccessible” over the last 30 years.

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio last week began an online newspaper campaign that placed messages in the Cleveland Plain Dealer via, the Columbus Dispatch, and the Dayton Daily News, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio spokesman Gabriel Mann told Rewire.

The ads address actions carried out by Created Equal by asking, “When Did The Right To Life Become The Right To Terrorize Ohio Abortion Providers?”

“We’re looking to expose how bad [Created Equal has] been in these specific media markets in Ohio. Created Equal has targeted doctors outside their homes,” Mann said. “It’s been a very aggressive campaign.”

The NARAL ads direct readers to, an educational website created by NARAL; Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio; the human rights and reproductive justice group, New Voices Cleveland; and Preterm, the only abortion provider located within Cleveland city limits.

The website provides visitors with a chronological look at anti-abortion restrictions that have been passed in Ohio since the landmark decision in Roe v. Wade in 1973.

In 2015, for example, Ohio’s Republican-held legislature passed a law requiring all abortion facilities to have a transfer agreement with a non-public hospital within 30 miles of their location. 

Like NARAL and the National Institute for Reproductive Health, Preterm has erected a communications campaign against the RNC platform. In Cleveland, that includes a billboard bearing the message, “End The Silence. End the Shame,” along a major highway near the airport, Miller said.

New Voices has focused its advocacy on combatting anti-choice policies and violence against Black women, especially on social media sites like Twitter.

After the police killing of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old Black boy, New Voices collaborated with the Repeal Hyde Art Project to erect billboard signage showing that reproductive justice includes the right to raise children who are protected from police brutality.

Abortion is not the only issue that has become the subject of billboard advertising at the GOP convention.

Kansas-based environmental and LGBTQ rights group Planting Peace erected a billboard depicting Donald Trump kissing his former challenger Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) just minutes from the RNC site, according to the Plain Dealer.

The billboard, which features the message, “Love Trumps Hate. End Homophobia,” calls for an “immediate change in the Republican Party platform with regard to our LGBT family and LGBT rights,” according to news reports.

CORRECTION: A version of this article incorrectly stated the percentage of Americans in favor of abortion rights.