Early this morning, the House passed the Bankruptcy Reform Act, HR 333, a bill that already is bad for consumers and good for big business, without compromise language that would ban anti-abortion extremists from escaping legal judgments by declaring bankruptcy, the Associated Press reported today. The Senate is not expected to pass the bill. They are focusing their attention on passing the homeland security bill before they leave for the year, and Senate Democrats have repeatedly said they will not consider a bill without the abortion language. According to the New York Times, the compromise language, originally introduced by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), had been negotiated in a House-Senate conference committee in July with anti-abortion members such as Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL). The Times went on to report that Sen. Schumer criticized the defeat of his amendment saying, “There is no reason a bill like this can’t pass except for some very extreme people who misread the law.”
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 compromise 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 the 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 not be 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.