Despite what seemed like a sure thing, anti-abortion members of Congress refused at the last minute to agree to a provision in the long-debated bankruptcy bill that would have prevented anti-abortion extremists from declaring bankruptcy to avoid paying fines assessed for threats or perpetration of clinic violence. The Schumer-Hatch amendment, which was first introduced by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) in 2000, was approved by the Senate in March as well as by House-Senate negotiators who announced a compromise on the bill last week. However, several anti-abortion Republicans, led by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) revolted against the compromise during debate early Saturday morning – despite the fact that President Bush had indicated he would sign the bill. Republican leaders say that they will push the bill through in September when Congress comes back from its summer break, according to the Associated Press.
Declaring bankruptcy is a strategy that has been attempted by a number of anti-abortion extremists, including six of the defendants in the recently upheld Planned Parenthood v. American Coalition of Life Activists (ACLA). These extremists, along with Operation Rescue leaders such as Randall Terry, Joseph Foreman, and Joseph Scheidler, would be held responsible for penalties levied against them if the provision were to be approved by Congress. The Feminist Majority has joined the National Abortion Rights and Action League, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, National Abortion Federation, the National Women's Law Center, the National Organization for Women as well as many women members of Congress in advocating for Schumer-Hatch Amendment.
The bulk of the bill is viewed as a handout to credit card companies by requiring that more people who file for bankruptcy are not completely exempted from their outstanding debts. In addition, the bill provides for credit card debt to be paid ahead of child support and alimony. The Feminist Majority opposes the overall bill because it favors corporations over low-income families.
Media Resources: Associated Press 7/28/02; Feminist News 7/26/02