Berkeley council sends hangers as abortion message

December 10, 2009 8:23:54 AM PST
Twenty coat hangers are on their way from the East Bay to lawmakers in Washington D.C.. The Berkeley City Council is sending them as an unusual message to Democrats who voted to restrict funding for abortions in the health care bill.

One city councilmember, Gordon Wozniak, voted not to send them, calling it an inappropriate symbol that could backfire. But the hangers and an official letter were sent anyway because city council voted 8-1, with Mayor Tom Bates absent, to make an official statement, protesting abortion restrictions in the federal health care bill.

Wire coat hangers are a bold symbol because they were used by some to induce miscarriages before abortion was legalized.

Council mailed the package Wednesday to 20 Democrats in the U.S House of Representatives who voted to prevent federal funds from being used to pay for abortions.

One longtime Berkeley resident feels it's a message that borders crossing an ethical line, but is typical of this city.

"It's dramatic, it just goes in-line with the whole nine-yards of what Berkeley is a lot of the time, radical, hopefully it will stay radical," said Elizabeth Gill of Berkeley.

"What about the message?" asked ABC7's Teresa Garcia.

"I agree with the message, but it's provocative," said Gill.

City council supporting this symbolic wire hanger mailing are asking the 20 Democrats who voted to restrict federal funding to reconsider their votes and support funding for women's reproductive health and the right to choose.

The anti-abortion amendment was sponsored by Michigan Democrat Congressman Bart Stupak. It drew dozens of pro-life Democratic votes for the House version of the health care bill, helping it pass narrowly last month.

This amendment would ban abortion coverage for those receiving government-run health insurance. It also would not allow people from selecting a private plan that covers abortion, if they receive federal subsidies to pay for the insurance.


Load Comments