Bring out the swashbucklers.
It's thrust and parry time for health care legislation, with all sides reaching for their sharpest weapons. This week's sword: Abortion. Meanwhile, some Australian nurses are wielding their own weapons in the southern hemisphere -- hypodermic syringes filled with the first swine flu vaccine to begin human tests.
First, from Capitol Hill: Conservative anti-abortion Republicans, with the support of Mike Huckabee and Focus on the Family's James Dobson, announced this week they'll host a "Stop the Abortion Mandate" webcast on Thursday.
They're hoping to rile passions against a provision in some health bills under consideration that would include abortion coverage in a public health care plan. As U.S. News reports, the language of the announcement wasn't subtle.
The political power grab...could lead to a massive abortion industry bailout -- something the overwhelming majority of Americans oppose, and certainly cannot afford in these tough economic times.
(For the Dem's parry, and more on swine flu shots in Oz, read past the jump)
In response, centrist Democrats in the House scurried to try and keep abortion out of the health care debate. According to the Washington Post, they sent a quick letter late Tuesday to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, urging a "common ground solution." According to the Post, the compromise proposal,
...would neither require nor ban private insurers from covering the procedure as long as federal funds are not used.
On the other side of the earth, 240 healthy volunteers are already pushing up their sleeves this week for injection with their first dose of an experimental vaccine against the pandemic strain of H1N1 flu. Other companies told Bloomberg News they intend to roll out their version of the vaccine over the next month or so.
All such tests are first steps in determining whether the vaccine works, how safe it is, and how many doses will be needed.
Listen tomorrow for reports from NPR's Joanne Silberner on Morning Edition about just how the FDA will determine safety in the mere weeks it will have between when the vaccine is ready and when it must be deployed in many thousands of people if it's to fend off a new, bigger wave of swine flu in the U.S. this fall.