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... "
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.