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Pro-Choice Advocates Are Wrong to Block House Health Care Bill

By November 11, 2009

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Despite the self-absorbed overreaction by some pro-choice Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was absolutely correct to allow the Stupak-Pitts pro-life amendment to be introduced for a full House vote.

The hard fact is that without the Stupak amendment, the House health care reform bill would have gone down to defeat last weekend.

Without the Stupak amendment, presumably most of the 64 Democrats (representing 25% of all House Democrats) who supported the measure would not have been able, out of principled conscience, to support the Affordable Health Care for America Act, H.R. 3962.

And health care reform, which Democrats have fervently urged for more than 70 years, would have been dead under the Obama administration and possibly for many decades to come.

This is an inevitable consequence of the "big tent" philosophy that allowed Democrats to take back the White House and control both houses of Congress in the 2008 elections.

Briefly, the Stupak amendment mandates:

"No funds authorized or appropriated by the Act... may be used to pay for any abortion or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion...

"Nothing in this section shall be construed as prohibiting any nonfederal entity... from purchasing separate or supplemental coverage for abortions for which funding is prohibited under this section... "

(For more, see Full Text of Stupak Amendment to Prohibit Government-Funded Abortions.)

Certainly the intentionally clever wording of the Stupak amendment would make it considerably more difficult for uninsured women who purchase the public plan option or receive low-income subsidies for their coverage to make the unnecessarily difficult arrangements to pay for abortion services.

Given that abortion is a legal right extended in 1973 to all Americans under the Roe v. Wade decision, it's wrong for Congress to attempt to block American women, including lower income women, from exercising their legal rights.

But there's plenty else wrong with the imperfect House health care reform bill. And the Stupak amendment is hardly the most undemocratic or unfair element of this legislation.

But the Affordable Health Care for America Act is the best we have today to provide health care access to 36 million uninsured men, women, and children. It's the best we've had in 100 years.

Frankly, pro-choice overreaction on the Stupak amendment belies a certain trite liberal elitism. Think about it: does anyone honestly believe that given a choice between health care with no abortion coverage or no health care access, lower income women would choose to forgo all health care services?

Further, the truth is that uninsured and lower-income women of child-bearing age are but a fraction of Americans who would benefit from the House health care reform bill. And there's no assurance that these women would either want or seek abortions.

The whiny egocentrism of the pro-life liberals who wrote a letter to Speaker Pelosi "firmly pledging to vote against the bill if it contains an anti-abortion amendment" are evincing the same extreme lack of political maturity as the Sarah Palin-faction of conservatives that threatens to destroy the Republican party for not evoking enough hyper-partisan purism for their tastes.

Enough with the selfish dramatics! Be patient, work the process (which, by the way, has a VERY long way to go before this bill can become law), and spare the Democratic party your excessive antics and public threats that drive people away from all liberal causes.

And remember: millions of Democrats in 2009 are pro-life, including a significant portion of Democratic members of Congress. Pro-life Democrats no longer exclusively own the Democratic party mantle, if they ever did.


November 11, 2009 at 8:27 pm
(1) John Ballard says:

Okay, Deborah. I got it. It took me two or three days to get over it, but I finally did.
You’re right. Without the coathanger amendment the whole package would have gone up in flames.
I still think it will be a landmine if and when the Freedom of Choice Act ever comes to the floor, but at the rate things are going that may not be in this generation.
Besides, the limitations allowed will likely survive a third trimester compromise when the time comes without the need for any rewriting of the legislation. A more precise timing of abortions could be the variable.

I like digby’s take today on covering erectile problems.

“I have a moral objection to paying for any kind of erectile dysfunction medicine in the new health reform bill and I think men who want to use it should just pay for it out of pocket. After all, I won’t ever need such a pill. And anyway, it’s no biggie. Just because most of them can get it under their insurance today doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have it stripped from their coverage in the future because of my moral objections. (I don’t think there’s even been a Supreme Court ruling making wood a constitutional right. I might be wrong about that.)
“I don’t want my tax dollars touching even one milimeter of that overly engorged expense.

“I realize that many people disagree with my moral objections to men getting erections which God clearly doesn’t want them to get, but my principles on this are more important to me than theirs are to them. So too bad. If you want a boner, pay for it yourself.

“And I think those noxious advertisements for the drugs should be banned as well, if only for aesthetic reasons. Having to watch my baby boomer fellows wail “Viva Viagra” is offensive to anyone who has any taste in music.”


November 12, 2009 at 2:20 am
(2) usliberals says:

John, you write, “Besides, the limitations allowed will likely survive a third trimester compromise when the time comes without the need for any rewriting of the legislation. A more precise timing of abortions could be the variable.”

Funny you should make that observation. You and I have so often been on the same wavelength over these years of blogging, my friend.

I’ve read every word of the Roe v. Wade decision, including all the objections and dissents. I have always believed that the ruling was misinterpreted, or at least misapplied, to mean an abortion at any time during a pregnancy… when the real meaning was the first and perhaps second trimester only.

And I’ve always thought that, eventually, the inevitable compromise will be that abortions will outlawed after, say, five months of gestation (i.e. when chances for viability outside the womb is almost nil).

November 12, 2009 at 11:02 am
(3) WWeiss_TheLonelyModerate says:

The reality that I always love in the abortion issue are the wing-nuts who say it’s taking a life but then say it’s OK in cases of rape. I feel it should be between a family and their doctor not the government. There should be a period in which it’s allowed, before 3rd tri. But if it’s taking a life and we consider it murder, then it’s OK to murder a bastard but not a child conceived any other way. It’s totally flawed logic. If it’s murder then call it murder otherwise call it what it is.

On top of that, how can someone who calls themselves pro-life be anti health-care for the child and the mother. I mean pregnancy is one of the most expensive parts of health-care. Premiums for businesses are often based on the number of women who are at the reproductive age. So how can someone who is pro-life like the Palintoligists be anti health-care reform. I guess they are only pro-birth not pro-life. As a Catholic I may not agree 100% with my church, but at least they are pro-life. No war, no cap punishment, health-care for our poor and needy, no abortion, no embryonic stem cell research. I think the Palintoligist bible bashers need a little lesson in boolean algebra. Maybe then they will see that they have no logic. But wing-nuts never use logos as part of their rhetoric. They are all about pathos, it works better on their sheep.

November 12, 2009 at 4:39 pm
(4) John Ballard says:

…wing-nuts never use logos as part of their rhetoric. They are all about pathos, it works better on their sheep.

Terrific line. Wish I’s said that.
And I agree that the abortion issue is one of those deeply personal concerns that is no one’s business beyond the principals. Same goes for all the rest of end-of-life questions from the aftermath of an accident leaving someone brain-dead to the Alzheimer’s victim who stops eating. Family members suffer enough without a bunch of political and legal foolishness making their circumstance even worse.

In the overwhelming number of cases the medical professionals have far more insight and experience than patients and their families. I say a second professional opinion should suffice for all medical questions, up to and including end of life decisions.

And as Deborah said there is nothing in the original language of Roe that ever countenanced abortion past “viability.” The decision bent backward encouraging legislators to clarify their language, but no state has really succeeded. What evolved (after Casey and Carhart http://bit.ly/tCpf1) is a duke’s mixture of inconsistency at the state level which fairly screams for some kind of federalization clarifying this contentious question once and for all… or at least well enough to minimize the number of single-issue non-thinkers for whom this question affects their brain worse than any hemmorhage.

November 12, 2009 at 5:46 pm
(5) WWeiss_TheLonelyModerate says:

Yeah John you are on the money on the right to die issue.

The thing I find most amusing about it is we cant afford to pay for the healthy who need minor care to stay healthy, but we can keep people alive against their will. Then when its all said and done the procedures we used to keep them unnaturally alive are billed to the person and their family who can no longer declare bankruptcy as a result of those procedures. Talk about a dog chasing its tail. Lets keep em alive against their will and force them to pay back the medical costs they couldn’t afford.

God love the wing-nuts. Both of my grandfathers died through hospice. Technically they could have kept them alive for much longer as a shell of a human being in many cases suffering severely. Thats not what my grandparents or rest of the family wanted. If those nut jobs ever have it their way they would make hospice illegal since they feed the people morphine drips and just let them die as they should. Obviously playing God is wrong, which does include keeping someone alive through crazy unnatural methods past their time to die.

Yeah, thats the tough part of being a moderate, moderation always needs to be applied. As we see, this government is not about moderation. Its let a problem get completely out of hand and they apply crazy changes to try to fix it.

But who can you vote for that is truly in the interests of the people and their rights?

November 8, 2011 at 7:33 am
(6) mw3-giveaway says:

usliberals.about.com is amazing, good work!
Modern Warfare 3 giveaway

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