ABORTION REDUCTION GAMESMANSHIP.

Dan Gilgoff has a thinly reported post in which he speculates, based on one anonymous congressional source, that the White House is "leaning" towards supporting the Pregnant Women's Support Act (PWSA). If true -- and Gilgoff offers little evidence it is -- this would represent a remarkable about-face for the administration.

Since President Obama's Notre Dame speech, there's been a bit of a rumor mill, particularly on Catholic blogs, that his "common ground" rhetoric suggested that he supports PWSA. (Alexia Kelley, Obama's new appointee to lead the faith-based center at the Department of Health and Human Services, does.) But Obama's rhetoric at Notre Dame is no different from the rhetoric he's used all along. The administration has long stated it supports measures that "reduce the need for abortion" by preventing unintended pregnancies. It does not say it seeks to "reduce the number of abortions" by implementing measures to discourage women from having them, or making them more difficult to obtain. That's why the official administration position has been to support Prevention First, which would fund comprehensive sex education and contraception.

Still, Obama's mandate to his faith-based advisory council to offer him advice on reproductive policy shows that he's doing the Obama thing: listening to different voices on a contentious topic. But, as I've argued in these pages, reproductive health is not a religious issue, and splitting the difference here would be counterproductive to promoting the health of women and families.

A spokesperson for NARAL Pro-Choice America e-mailed me this comment:

NARAL Pro-Choice America opposes the Support Pregnant Woman Act because of the absence of important pieces, like contraception, and the presence of some parts tinged with anti-choice values. The White House is aware of our position, and thus we hope this is nothing more than a baseless leak and not a true reflection of the policy direction they're pursuing.

--Sarah Posner

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