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Congress might not be able to pass routine measures without sending the country near the brink of chaos, but politicians are still pressing on in their efforts to limit women’s access to abortion.

The House has been focusing on economic issues and ignoring most social debates in recent months, offering many women a chance to relax without worrying that their reproductive freedoms might be taken away. On Friday, however, the House will consider the “Protect Life Act,” or H.R. 358, which would prohibit federal funding from going toward health plans that cover abortion services and would also prevent funding from being withheld from institutions that oppose abortions. Pro-life and pro-choice groups alike are preparing for the revived debate. As The Washington Post writes:

Friday’s vote on H.R. 358 will likely mark the beginning of a new round in the abortion-rights fight on Capitol Hill: when both parties do battle over the next two months on the budget for the remainder of the 2012 fiscal year, social issues will again be in the spotlight. And a move last month by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) to probe Planned Parenthood’s financial records has also returned the issue to the fore.

The legislation might raise more social issues in the presidential race — but in terms of Republican primaries, there most likely won’t be much of a debate given how homogeneously pro-life the GOP hopefuls are. The anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List created a primer on the issue, clearly showing that most of the candidates are staunchly pro-life. Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum all have said they would only select pro-life appointees for relevant cabinet and executive positions. Only Mitt Romney has not made this commitment, and he and Cain stand alone in not signing the Susan B. Anthony List’s 2012 Pro-life Presidential Leadership Pledge. Abortion might not be a main campaign issue right now, but the willingness of politicians to agree to such a pledge indicates that the results of the presidential election could have a dramatic impact on women.


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