(Please see updates after post.)
There is a difference and it is made plain by two competing bills currently before Congress - the Pregnant Women Support Act and the Prevention First Act. We'll look at the first in this post and the latter later. A final post will look at the politics of both and the likely outcome.
Pregnant Women Support Act
The Pregnant Women Support Act was developed by Democrats for Life of America and introduced in the House by Rep. Lincoln Davis (D-TN) and Senator Robert Casey (D-PA) in the Senate. It currently has 21 Democrat and 9 Republican cosponsors in the House and a single Democrat cosponsor in the Senate.
It is a good bill, a pro-life bill and is supported by Cardinal Rigali and numerous Catholic and pro-life organizations. It has not been supported by the President or the Democratic Caucus as their Catholic defenders have falsely claimed. But more on that later.
The bill's short description is "To provide for programs that reduce abortions, help women bear healthy children, and support new parents." Here's what it does:
1. ". . .make grants to States to increase public awareness of resources available to pregnant women to carry their pregnancy to term and to new parents."
2. ". . .make grants for the purchase of ultrasound equipment. Such ultrasound equipment shall be used by the recipients of such grants to provide, under the direction and supervision of a licensed medical physician, ultrasound examinations to pregnant women consenting to such services."
3. Restricts the ability of insurance companies to classify pregnancy as a pre-existing condition to coverage.
4. Extends Medicaid and SCHIP coverage for pregnant women and unborn children.
5. Abortion facilities must acquire informed consent which must include information on gestational age and characteristics of the unborn child, risks of abortion, how the abortion is performed, and alternatives to abortion including adoption and alternative resources available in the community.
6. Creates a Pregnant and Parenting Student Services Pilot Program providing a long list of services and accommodations for pregnant women at colleges.
7. "make grants to States to allow early childhood education programs, including Head Start, to work with pregnant or parenting teens to complete high school and prepare for college or for vocational education."
8. Creates a Program to Support Pregnant Women Who are Victims of Domestic Violence.
9. Establishes a "pilot program to fund supportive services for pregnant women, mothers, and children," providing, among other things, relocation assistance, temporary residential care, parenting classes, business skills training, educational support and emergency financial aid.
10. Expansion of Adoption Credit and Adoption Assistance Programs.
11. Expands and makes additional appropriations to WIC and The Child Care and Development Block Grant Program.
12. Makes grants for the collection and reporting of demographic abortion data to Congress.
In Part 2 we'll examine the Prevention First Act and how it doesn't look anything like this good bill. UPDATE - Part 2 now posted.
UPDATE 2 - Please see Cardinal Rigali's letter in support of the Senate Re-Introduction of the Pregnant Women Support Act (pdf). It very clearly distinguishes this bill from the Prevention First Act. Note to USCCB Communications Office - Stop making important announcements as locked pdfs. You might as well throw them in the garbage.