The PJ Tatler

Did I Do That? Senators Claim They Didn’t Know What They Were Voting For

Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar has endured some heat from abortionists for voting in favor of a bill to combat human trafficking. The Associated Press reports:

The proposed measure, which had strong backing from members of both parties, stalled in the U.S. Senate last week when Democrats — including Sens. Klobuchar and Al Franken — say they discovered language in the bill that restricts federal funds for abortions and emergency contraception.

Both Klobuchar and Franken voted for the bill in late February on the Judiciary Committee. Franken has said he regrets his vote and believes the Republicans “slipped” in the abortion language, also called a Hyde Amendment. Klobuchar said she didn’t know the language was in the bill when she voted for it.

Two things stand out here. First, circumstances apparently arise whereby a legislator can vote on a bill without understanding what it does. That’s awfully problematic if we maintain that representative government ought to entail thoughtful consideration by our elected representatives.

The AP article deflects blame to an aide of Klobuchar’s who apparently knew the abortion language was in the bill and failed to tell Klobuchar about it. The unstated premise of that defense is that we ought to accept as routine the casting of votes by our legislators based not on a well-considered understanding of a bill, but based on a summary from their staff.

Maybe we could try writing bills that speak directly to single issues utilizing concise language so that our representatives – and We the People – can actually understand what is being voted on. Crazy, I know.

The second stand out from the AP’s reporting is their representation of the abortion language itself. They begin by correctly identifying it as a restriction on “federal funds for abortions and emergency contraception.” But subsequently refer to it as “abortion restriction.”

No matter what side of the abortion debate one comes down on, we ought to recognize that lack of subsidy does not constitute a restriction. You haven’t restricted me from eating lunch by refusing to pay for it.