The Post's editorial on the difficulties currently facing the "Grove City" bill in the House of Representatives ("Roadblocks to Grove City," Aug. 2) was deficient on several points.
Contrary to the implication of the editorial, concern regarding the connection between the Grove City bill and "abortion rights" extends well beyond "some church groups." Because of the bill's pro-abortion ramifications for public institutions, the National Right to Life Committee would oppose the unamended bill even if all religious institutions were exempted from its provisions (and many are not).
The Grove City bill amends four civil rights laws, including the major federal law dealing with sex discrimination, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX prohibits discrimination "on the basis of sex" in federally funded educational institutions. In 1975 federal administrators issued binding regulations that interpreted Title IX to require federally funded educational institutions to provide abortion insurance and other abortion-related services (such as abortion referrals).
Title IX was enacted in 1972, when it was a felony in most states to perform an abortion, except to save the mother's life. Clearly, the Congress that enacted Title IX did not intend to prohibit educational institutions from distinguishing between childbirth and feticide.
In its 1984 Grove City College v. Bell ruling, the Supreme Court construed Title IX to apply only to a specific program receiving federal funds. The Grove City bill would reverse that decision and establish at least "institution-wide" coverage under federal civil rights laws.
In expanding the reach of Title IX, the Grove City bill would also inevitably expand the reach of the pro-abortion regulations. For the first time, hospitals with educational programs (for example, interns, nursing students) would be forced to conform to the Title IX regulations requiring provision of abortion services. Institutions that resisted could be sued for "sex discrimination."
The Post places great emphasis upon Title IX's qualified exemption for institutions "controlled by" religious bodies. It is very debatable whether this exemption would protect most religiously affiliated hospitals from the abortion regulations. But even if it would, there are many secular hospitals (public and private) that currently choose not to permit abortions on the premises.
The Post believes that the Grove City bill would simply restore the "institution-wide" coverage that existed under Title IX prior to the 1984 Supreme Court ruling. Well, pro-life groups want to restore Title IX to its original, pre-1975, abortion-neutral state. Reps. Thomas J. Tauke (R- Iowa) and F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) have proposed a simple amendment that would do just that, and nothing more.
The Tauke/Sensenbrenner amendment is supported by a substantial majority of House members, including many sponsors of the Grove City bill. Yet major civil rights advocacy groups are apparently ready to sink this bill themselves, rather than allow it to pass with the Tauke/Sensenbrenner amendment.
Why would House Judiciary Committee Chairman Peter Rodino (D-N.J.) and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights scuttle a major bill dealing with discrimination on the basis of race, age, sex and handicap? It appears that they are being pressured into this no-win position by the National Organization for Women and other militantly pro-abortion groups. NOW is, in effect, holding the entire Grove City bill hostage to the abortion regulations.
The Post's proposed remedy is to pass the bill without the amendment, under "a solemn pledge to deal with the abortion regulations after the major bill is passed." But how would the abortion regulations then be "dealt with"? Through a separate bill that would be violently resisted by NOW and its congressional allies? By attempted administrative repeal -- that would probably be blocked by the nearest available pro- abortion federal district judge?
No, a "solemn pledge" will not suffice. The Grove City bill is intended to clarify Title IX. It is obviously the appropriate vehicle to restore Title IX to its original "abortion-neutral" state. I'm afraid that the civil rights lobby will have to decide which it regards as more important: federally mandated abortion "benefits," or the vastly expanded reach for four civil rights laws that the Grove City bill would provide.