Reversing Bush on abortion rights

REVERSING BUSH ON ABORTION RIGHTS…. It’s unclear exactly what will take immediate priority on Barack Obama’s to-do list after his inauguration, but it seems clear that Americans won’t have to wait too long before seeing progress on issues relating to science, health, and reproductive rights.

This includes undoing Bush’s “right of conscience” regulation, which has not yet been finalized, but it goes further. The Wall Street Journal reports that Obama is closely reviewing reproductive-health issues, identifying Bush measures in need of reversals.

On abortion and related matters, action is expected early on executive, regulatory, budgetary and legislative fronts.

Decisions that the new administration will weigh include: whether to cut funding for sexual abstinence programs; whether to increase funding for comprehensive sex education programs that include discussion of birth control; whether to allow federal health plans to pay for abortions; and whether to overturn regulations such as one that makes fetuses eligible for health-care coverage under the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Women’s health advocates are also pushing for a change in rules that would lower the cost of birth control at college health clinics.

The reversal on research using embryonic stem cells should come fairly quickly in the new administration, and expect early action on dropping the “global gag rule” and restoring federal funding for family planning to the United Nations Population Fund (which is way overdue).

Action on the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), which would codify Roe v. Wade into federal law, is probably less likely. The right is gearing up for it — Family Research Council considers it the “No. 1 concern” — but abortion-rights supporters are directing their attention elsewhere. The WSJ noted, “A coalition of nearly 60 liberal and women’s groups submitted a list of 15 requests for action in the Obama administration’s first 100 days, and FOCA isn’t on the list.”

Something to keep an eye on.