Weeks after Dr. George Tiller was shot and killed in his Kansas church, the U.S. Senate is debating a resolution condemning violence against abortion providers. But abortion politics has made even the simple task of passing a resolution denouncing violence into a contentious battle. The words “reproductive health care” could be a deal breaker with some Republicans and anti-abortion senators.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar is a lead sponsor, along with Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., of a bill in the Senate condemning Tiller’s murder and use of violence for political ends.
The bill says that “acts of violence should never be used to prevent women from receiving reproductive health care.” The presence of those final three words has spurned anti-abortion forces to reject it saying that to vote for the bill is to “glorify” abortion.
And on Thursday, an anonymous Republican senator moved to use the rarely seen “secret hold,” preventing it from coming to a vote.
“What an encouragement to the pro-life community that while some Senators may vote in favor of abortion, they stand strongly against any effort to glorify it,” said Family Research Council president Tony Perkins in a statement. “Like us, they realize that just as violence cannot be tolerated, neither can any effort to exalt those who practice it against the unborn.”
“As a former prosecutor I have seen how acts of violence can tear apart communities,” Klobuchar said of the bill. “No matter how heated the debate or how great our differences, violence is never the answer.”
On the anonymous hold, she said, “Supporting a bipartisan bill that denounces the use of violence is basic common sense and we need to pass this without further delay.”
In a joint statement, Klobuchar, Boxer and Sheehan said they will not compromise on the wording saying, “condemning violence against women’s health care providers and agreeing not to use violence as a means of resolving differences are not objectionable viewpoints.”
The U.S. House unanimously passed a watered-down version on June 9 which condemned the murder of Tiller but also a half-dozen other murders that occurred in places of worship. It did not mention Tiller’s profession, the reason he was murdered or the terms “abortion” or “reproductive rights.”
Including Sens. Klobuchar, Boxer and Sheehan, the Senate version has 43 cosponsors.