Move beyond the gag rule

November 07, 1991|By Los Angeles Times

A HOUSE-Senate conference committee has voted to overturn a regulation forbidding doctors and other counselors at federally funded family planning clinics from even mentioning the abortion option to pregnant women. President Bush should drop his support of the offensive "gag rule."

The compromise Congressional provision that would void the gag rule has been "cleaned," stripped of any divisive provisions, in order to garner the widest possible bipartisan support. It is now expected to win overwhelming approval in both houses of Congress -- perhaps by margins that could override a Bush veto.

While abortion is a morally difficult issue for many Americans, the issue raised by the gag rule is not. It is, quite simply: Should a woman's right to complete medical information depend so heavily upon her economic status?

While most Americans consistently favor the right of a woman to choose an abortion, an even larger majority believes that the government should not stand in the way of a pregnant woman knowing about her options -- all of them.

The medical profession opposes the gag rule and has lobbied for its demise.

In recent weeks, the president has been said to be considering some sort of compromise. That's what must happen now. The gag rule is not good public policy. It is not good politics. It is certainly not fair.

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