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House Pushing Morning-After Pill Law

September 19, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Anti-abortion lawmakers pushed through a proposal Tuesday aimed at prohibiting the use of federal funds to distribute the so-called morning-after pill at the nation’s public schools.

The drug can be used after unprotected sex to stop a pregnancy, and House supporters of the proposal said 180 schools across the country distribute it at school-based clinics.

A similar proposal had been included in the Senate version of the education spending bill being negotiated by House and Senate conferees. That proposal, however, had already been rejected once by negotiators.

The procedural maneuver led by Oklahoma Republican Rep. Tom Coburn, which is nonbinding, encourages the House negotiators to reinstate the proposal in conference. It passed 250-170.

Still, it provided a sticky election year issue for Democrats who may have been leery of touching the sensitive issue.

``I think the debate is whether or not parents ought to be made or allowed to be involved in significant decisions of their children,″ Coburn said. ``When a child in school can’t get an aspirin without a parent being involved but we can give them a prescription pill, I think we need to have a full and fair discussion.″

Opponents said the drug was merely a ``high dose of birth control pills.″

``This frankly has nothing to do with abortion at all. It has everything to do with preventing pregnancy,″ said Rep. Nancy Johnson, R-Conn.

Added Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., ``The community works together to decide what’s best for the young people and Congress should respect these local decisions.″

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The bill, H.R. 4577, can be found at http://thomas.loc.gov

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