A bill that is bad for consumers and good for big business is once again being held up by abortion politics, the Washington Post reported today. Approval of HR 333 or the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act, which would make it more difficult for consumers to wipe out their debt, is in jeopardy because of the Schumer-Hatch amendment that would ban anti-abortion extremists from escaping legal judgments by declaring bankruptcy. Earlier this session, the Senate approved a version of the bill with the amendment – first introduced by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) in 2000 – while House approved a version without it. However, a compromise that included the amendment was approved in a House-Senate conference in July. Until, at the last minute, anti-abortion members of Congress refused to agree to the amendment, saying instead that they would bring the issue up for debate this month. With a House vote on the conference version expected yesterday, anti-abortion lawmakers once again pulled the bill from the floor “rather than risk angering Republican abortion opponents in an election season,” according to the Post.
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 be not exempted completely 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.