- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Actress Patricia Heaton says the average Hollywood set rolls out the red carpet for children.

“Despite what the rhetoric might be, the environment is very family-friendly,” said Mrs. Heaton, in describing the abundant day care facilities she finds when she arrives at work.

The “Everybody Loves Raymond” star told editors and reporters at The Washington Times yesterday that her community is receptive to both children and to those who fight for unborn children. At least when the attractive brunette does the talking about the latter.

“One on one, we have these wonderful conversations,” the married mother of four said.

Yesterday, she came to the District on behalf of Feminists for Life to apply that same star power to politicians from both sides of the aisle. The actress, along with group president Serrin M. Foster and FFL’s director of international programs, Marie Smith, chatted up members of Congress about giving pregnant women enough resources to make their own choices.

Too many women are being denied the real choice, the Emmy winner said.

Dressed in a slim dark-blue suit, she said a lack of resources often robs pregnant women, typically those in college or with little money, from being able to consider other options beyond abortion. The problem is stark at the collegiate level, she said.

“Students rarely see pregnant students,” said Miss Heaton, whose highly successful “Raymond” series run ends this year. “They’ll never associate having their children with education.”

FFL is a nonpartisan group, which stands against abortion. Mrs. Heaton serves as the group’s honorary chairwoman.

Despite what many think is the feminist’s position on abortion, Mrs. Heaton contended her stance is a natural one for the true feminist.

“The early feminists found abortion to be the ultimate exploitation of women,” she said.

That message mutated during the 1960s, a decade when women were told they had to “become men to compete,” she said.

“We bought into that. We’re smarter today,” she said. “It’s more empowering to go through with your pregnancy.”

Mrs. Heaton is no politician, but she proved adept at staying on message. She refused to further address the Terry Schiavo case, despite her recent interviews declaring her support for the brain-damaged Florida woman’s feeding tube to be reinstated.

She also defended her fellow actors who, unlike her genuine appeals for vitriol-free discussion, take the histrionic paths when espousing their ideologies.

“They’re taught to be that way,” she said of their unique skill sets. “Even when I don’t agree with them … I totally sympathize with them.”