41 Dems Vow To Oppose HCR If It Includes Stupak Amendment

Greg Sargent:

A source sends over a working copy of the letter without the signatories, and the source says it currently bears the signatures of 41 House Dems. They’re all vowing to vote No on a bill if it contains the Stupak amendment — enough to sink the bill:

[. . .] The Stupak-Pitts amendment to H.R. 3962, The Affordable Healthcare for America Act, represents an unprecedented and unacceptable restriction on women’s ability to access the full range of reproductive health services to which they are lawfully entitled. We will not vote for a conference report that contains language that restricts women’s right to choose any further than current law.

This is excellent. Whether this is a real threat or merely a bargaining position, it is precisely how to fight on health care reform to the end. This is Madman Political Bargaining. Good to see progressives trying it.

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    Why didn't they oppose it this weekend? (5.00 / 4) (#1)
    by jbindc on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 12:22:44 PM EST
    Even before it came to a vote - make the Speaker go back and rethink rushing this to make Obama's "end of year" timetable. Why didn't they just tell Pelosi - "Sorry - not going to vote for your bill with the Stupak language in it, so you may not want to hold the vote?"

    To make a show out of it? The (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by tigercourse on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 12:32:50 PM EST
    anti-choicers get to have their moment in the sun, then the pro-choicers get to have theirs. Each gets to make their base "happy". I don't know who wins.

    Stupak's Amendmant is a two-fer (5.00 / 3) (#77)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 03:52:45 PM EST
    The goon squad advances their cause by flagrantly assailing the rights of half the population and they benefit further when our outrage is diverted away from the overall abomination of the Affordable Health Care for America Act.

    David Swanson says it well at Counterpunch, The Two Percent Robustness:

    Is that better than nothing? No, it's worse, because this pathetic scam of a healthcare plan is plastered like lipstick on a pig to a bailout for the health insurance corporations. (Sure, the bill contains some reforms to the insurance corporations' practices, but that's like trying to reform piranhas.) And when the healthcare crisis continues to worsen in the coming years, the blame will be placed on the nearly nonexistent public option, thus justifying making things even worse, if possible.

    It is proceeding according to plan; with the hit on women functioning like a head on a stick - reminding us all that our most fundamental rights can, and will, be infringed by any, and every, bat-$hit thug who takes a notion.


    "Wolf, wolf" and there is no wolf. (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by oculus on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 12:42:46 PM EST
    Flap your gums, members of the House of Representatives.  But, oh wait, didn't you all just vote in favor of the bill containing this amendment?  

    Meanwhile, according to Sam Stein, Sen. Snowe is on record she will not vote in favor of a bill containing Sen. Hatch's proposed amendment re funding abortions.


    Thank you President Snowe. (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by tigercourse on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 12:43:38 PM EST
    That's funny (none / 0) (#10)
    by andgarden on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 12:44:58 PM EST
    All of her supposedly pro-choice Republican colleagues in the House voted for the amendment.

    And, according to Sam Stein, Claire McCaskill (none / 0) (#20)
    by oculus on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 12:52:11 PM EST
    (who says she is unimpeachably pro-choice) can live with the amendment.

    Coincidentally, I can't live with Claire McCaskill (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by Ellie on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 01:37:02 PM EST

    Me either (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by MO Blue on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 02:01:38 PM EST
    I will not vote for her in 2012. Might actually cast my first ever vote for a Republican instead.

    During a House Vote post-mortem ... (5.00 / 3) (#52)
    by Ellie on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 02:36:41 PM EST
    ... with some really p!ssed off sisters, friends, aunts etc. one came up with this blogtastic strategy.

    Get a sample ballot and scribble in an agreed-upon "write-in" with your fellow blogren (eg, Jobs Now, or whatever the pressing issue in your district is.)

    During the campaign, mass-fax that to the Dem / Indy / Green candidate(s). Heck, do it to all of them -- if you're an Indy, it'll get twice the lookover.

    If there are enough like-minded voters in your area doing the same, it will show up in ALL the pre-election horse race coverage and post election results.

    In this situation, downtech is your bestest friend EVER because it will get close attention.

    Fax is better than email (which can be kill-filed or mass deleted). Snail is better than Fax. Face Time is better than Snail, especially if you give great face or know Jedi mind tricks.


    Why does it matter (5.00 / 3) (#31)
    by Cream City on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 01:07:27 PM EST
    if, as we were told repeatedly by some here, nothing changed this weekend re women's rights.

    (Well, of course not, as a bill is not law -- but we also were told that the bill becoming law would not change women's reproductive rights.  So if we would have lost nothing, why is it now something good that there is a pushback?  Uh huh.)


    Exactly! I was thinking the same thing (none / 0) (#81)
    by suzieg on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 06:21:18 PM EST
    The time to make threats is before the vote - the deed is done now and they'll vote for it included in the end - this is all posturing to make themselves more acceptable to the women they betrayed!

    I think it's pretty obvious (none / 0) (#86)
    by FreakyBeaky on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 11:24:08 PM EST
    Passing the bill now and threatening to vote against it later gives them a chance to pass HCR with fewer restrictions on abortion funding, say back to the (already horrible) Hyde Amendment level, coming out of conference.

    Not passing the bill now kisses HCR goodbye for another ten or twenty years.  Since any chance is better than no chance at all, we've got what we've got.

    The question I've got, I reiterate, is this: has the pro-choice side (that includes me) really lost the public debate to the extent that sixty-four anti-choice Dems are needed to have a congressional majority of 258 seats?  Is that really where we're at?  The polls say no, but elections seem to say yes.  I'd really like to see about 64 primaries to start finding out.

    And in a good news / bad news twist, I'm represented by mostly progressive, women Dems there is no point primary-ing (two for sure, anyway  - the third is arguable, but IMO the answer is no).


    Stupak language moves to Senate (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by MO Blue on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 12:31:32 PM EST
    To no one's surprise, reproductive rights opponents are working to include the Stupak amendment language in the Senate version of the bill.

       Now some Senate Democrats, including Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Ben Nelson of Nebraska, are pushing to incorporate the same restrictions in their own bill. Senior Senate Democratic aides said the outcome was too close to call. link

    Five states already forbid private insurers (5.00 / 3) (#4)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 12:34:56 PM EST
    from covering abortion procedures.

    I saw a link to this NY Times story (11/08/09) on the Sunday Afternoon Open Thread:

    Five states go further than the [current] amendment to the health care overhaul - ID, KY, MO, ND and OK - already bar private insurance plans from covering elective abortions.
    How in the world did these states manage to implement legislation that expressly required private health insurance companies to deny coverage for any legal medical procedure? Let alone abortion (including elective abortion) which the Supreme Court, in Roe v. Wade, deemed to be:
    a fundamental right under the United States Constitution, thereby subjecting all laws attempting to restrict it to the standard of strict scrutiny.

    Obviously, there was no "strict scrutiny" in ID, KY, MO, ND and OK: health insurance executives colluded with state legislators and profited from infringing upon a "fundamental human right". I know the Constitution is in tatters, but still you'd think something like this would have garnered a boat-load of hot-button buzz.

    That's a good question (5.00 / 2) (#21)
    by Steve M on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 12:52:32 PM EST
    I did a little research and found that the story might not be exactly accurate.  Missouri, for example, doesn't bar private insurance from covering so-called "elective abortions," it just has this little gem of a statute:

    No health insurance contracts, plans, or policies delivered or issued for delivery in the state shall provide coverage for elective abortions except by an optional rider for which there must be paid an additional premium. For purposes of this section, an "elective abortion" means an abortion for any reason other than a spontaneous abortion or to prevent the death of the female upon whom the abortion is performed.

    The statute was challenged in court in 1992, and struck down.  The court of appeals reversed, holding that there had been no evidence that the statute actually created an "undue burden" - as in, the plaintiff had failed to show that insurance covering abortions was unavailable or prohibitively expensive as a factual matter.  I'm not sure what became of the legal challenge after that, but the law is still on the books.

    By contrast, in 1984 a similar "abortion rider" statute in Rhode Island was struck down as unconstitutional.  National Education Association of Rhode Island v. Garrahy, 598 F. Supp. 1374 (D.R.I. 1984).  I didn't read the whole decision but this part caught my eye:

    The burden imposed by the health insurers' prohibition is particularly egregious in light of the plans proposed by Blue Cross and RIGHA to implement the statute. While the supplementary premium required is relatively small, more important is the veto feature of the plan. Any employer could veto the rider for all employees covered by the employer's policy. Any single member of a non-employer group could likewise veto the rider for an entire group plan. Women seeking to retain coverage in these circumstances would be compelled to leave their group plans -- at a cost of up to $2000 annually -- and self-finance an entire health insurance package.

    I wouldn't be surprised if all five of these state statutes you mention are similar "abortion  rider" laws.  I seem to remember a lot of discussion of laws like that when I was in law school back in the day.


    I think this easily survives PP v. Casey (none / 0) (#26)
    by andgarden on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 12:54:52 PM EST
    but it's all up to judicial interpretation.

    The obvious question is (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Steve M on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 12:40:13 PM EST
    in what specific way does the Stupak amendment "restrict women's right to choose any further than current law"?

    I think it is important to know whether the bill represents a step backwards or merely a regrettable lack of progress on the choice issue.  But I'm having trouble figuring out the legally accurate answer for myself.

    Perhaps the better term would be "ability (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by tigercourse on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 12:42:54 PM EST
    then right, in the same way that poll taxes and litmus tests served to restirct African Americans' "ability" to vote.

    And of course I mean "literacy" test. (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by tigercourse on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 12:45:01 PM EST
    Maybe (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by Steve M on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 12:54:18 PM EST
    but I could offer a bunch of guesses too.  I'm hoping the legal answer will become clear at some point.  I wouldn't dismiss out of hand the idea that the literal "right" to choose might be impaired by this amendment in some fashion.

    Has the CBO scored the House bill, (none / 0) (#63)
    by oculus on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 03:06:47 PM EST
    including Stupak/Pitts amendment?

    The way I read the amendment, states (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by oculus on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 12:45:43 PM EST
    can no longer pay for abortions for Medicaid recipients, even if the entirety is state money not attributable to federal government.  17 states presently provide payment for abortions for Medicaid recipients.  Also, is it too broad a reading of Stupak-Pitts to conclude health insurers participating in the exchange or public ooption cannot offer coverage for abortion to any of their insureds, even those outside the exchange or public option?

    No, that's not too broad a reading. (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by tigercourse on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 12:47:54 PM EST
    No insurance company that participates in the government program can offer abortion coverage to ANYONE.

    Text of the amendment (none / 0) (#19)
    by andgarden on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 12:51:02 PM EST
    here (PDF).

    I'm going to read it again, but I don't think it says that.


    This is what Jan Schakowsky (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by tigercourse on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 01:00:03 PM EST
    the co chair of the women's caucus says

    "This amendment says that a woman CANNOT purchase coverage that includes abortion services using her own dollars; middle class women, using exclusively their own money will be prohibited from purchasing a plan including abortion coverage in every single public OR PRIVATE INSURANCE PLAN in the new health care exchange. Her only option is to buy a separate insurance policy that covers only abortion - a ridiculous and unworkable approach since no woman anticipates needing an abortion. "


    That's a likely construction of the amendment (none / 0) (#30)
    by andgarden on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 01:05:31 PM EST
    I think what it hinges on is what constitutes a "separate supplement."

    Doing worry your pretty head. NYT article (none / 0) (#33)
    by oculus on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 01:12:54 PM EST
    I linked to yesterday in open thread says even when insurance coverage includes elective abortions, few women make claims on the policy.  Possibly because they do not want their choice of abortion documented in their insurance company records.  

    I hate do disagree with ... (none / 0) (#44)
    by Robot Porter on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 01:54:56 PM EST
    the Woman's Caucus and this is a terrible amendment, but it seems slightly less far-reaching than they're saying.

    From my reading, an exchange participating plan can include abortion coverage, but you cannot purchase such a plan if you're using an "affordability credit".

    Now this may be a distinction without a difference, since most middle class women participating in the exchange will be using an affordability credit.  But it's still a slight difference.


    No, it is my understanding that (5.00 / 2) (#46)
    by Anne on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 02:04:05 PM EST
    a private plan participating in the exchange is prohibited from offering abortion coverage to a woman even if she is paying 100% of the cost of the plan, with no subsidy.

    Insurers will participate in the exchange with new (none / 0) (#48)
    by steviez314 on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 02:08:14 PM EST
    plans, not the ones they currently offer, since the Exchange specifies certain details of coverage by plan level that won't match up with their current offerings.

    Technically, you are correct. (5.00 / 1) (#47)
    by steviez314 on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 02:06:20 PM EST
    An insurance company can offer 2 plans in the exchange--one covering abortion and one that doesn't.  (In fact, if they provide one that does, the Amendment states they MUST provide one that doesn't).  (Also in fact, there will be multiple levels in the exchange, so each company will probably provide more than one plan).

    From a practical point of view though, since subsidized buyers can only buy the worse plan, and they are also probably poorer and in worse health, the worse plan will have a higher risk pool, and higher premiums than they should.

    Also, from a practical point of view, this just makes it easier for the insurance companies to not even bother to include abortion coverage in an exchange plan.  Since they don't have to, why duplicate effort.


    It seems to me (5.00 / 2) (#61)
    by Steve M on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 03:04:45 PM EST
    that an insurer thinking about nothing but the bottom line would always want to cover abortions, birth control, you name it.

    Does Ms. Schakowsky (none / 0) (#75)
    by coast on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 03:44:28 PM EST
    understand that woman who have individual insurance policies currently have seperate policies or "riders" for pregnancy coverage now.  Its not included in any individual policy outright.  So why is this "ridiculous and unworkable"?

    I have read it and will do so again. (none / 0) (#23)
    by oculus on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 12:53:43 PM EST
    To me, restricting states re paying for abortions for Medicaid recipients is a bad thing and worth fighting against.  

    (b)(2)(B) is the troublesome provision (none / 0) (#28)
    by andgarden on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 12:59:14 PM EST
    but (c) seems to maintain the status quo.

    How do you read this stuff? (5.00 / 3) (#64)
    by roy on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 03:07:52 PM EST
    I don't have the right vocabulary for this kind of writing, so I apologize if this is unclear.

    Part A is a reasonably straightforward statement, but the rest has confused me.  Parts B and C take the form, more or less, "Nothing in this section restricts X, so long as conditions Y and Z are met".  Does this mean that X is restricted unless conditions Y and Z are met?  Or does it actually narrow part A, by saying that X is permitted when Y and Z are met, but not creating any restrictions on X beyond what's already in A?

    Alternately, consider "I won't go grocery shipping so long as we don't run out of milk.".  Do you read this as saying...

    • If we don't run out of milk, I won't go grocery shopping.

    • If we do run out of milk, I may or may not go grocery shopping, depending on other factors not described.


    • If we don't run out of milk, I won't go grocery shopping.

    • If we do run out of milk, I will go grocery shopping.


    • I refuse to make any clear statement regarding grocery shopping, so I can make a plausible argument to do whatever I want when the issue comes up later.

    Exactly ;-) (none / 0) (#73)
    by andgarden on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 03:38:42 PM EST
    From what I can see (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by jbindc on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 12:48:30 PM EST
    Currently, if a woman's insurance does not cover abortion related services, she can purchase supplemental insurance.  Under the Stupak Amendment, if a woman is receiving federal subsidies, she may not be able to purchase such supplemental insurance (because the money she uses to purchase may be the exact dollars given to her by the government); also, if a private health care plan is part of a federal exchange, it shall not cover abortion related services, even though it's a private company.

    Correct me if I'm wrong.


    How does the Stupak amendment (5.00 / 2) (#42)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 01:52:17 PM EST
    "restrict women's right to choose any further than current law"? (Steve M)

    The existing 1973 Hyde Amendment prohibited the use of federal public funds to cover abortions under Medicaid. As other have noted, the Stupak amendment expands prohibitions on abortion funding into the private health insurance sector. Of course, this increases a woman's financial burden and thereby further infringes on her ability to access abortion.

    Legislation of this kind, which infringes on the "fundamental right" of abortion, is supposed to be subject to strict scrutiny which:

    Arises...when a "fundamental" constitutional right is infringed, particularly those listed in the Bill of Rights and those the court has deemed a fundamental right protected by the liberty provision of the 14th Amendment...

    I don't see how the original Hyde Amendment is constitutional; let alone the Stupak Amendment; let alone the matter of the five states that, some time ago, barred private insurers from covering abortions services.

    The role of the Catholic Church is being examined. However, the health lobby basically wrote the entire health insurance 'reform' plan, so I find it odd that their role is not being scrutinized in this particular matter.

    There needs to be a discussion of the fact that these private insurers PROFIT every time they don't cover the cost of an abortion. It becomes even more profitable for the insurers when legislation compels the purchase of health insurance for the children who ensue from unplanned/unterminated pregnancies.


    That's a fair question (none / 0) (#9)
    by andgarden on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 12:43:59 PM EST
    And one that I wish DeGette and co had aired in public before the vote.

    To me (none / 0) (#14)
    by CST on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 12:45:58 PM EST
    it's simple - mandate.

    The mandate says we have to buy insurance or pay a fine.  The amendment says if we accept federal subsidies we cannot spend any money on insurance that provides this service.

    They are mandating people buy insurance that will not cover their needs.

    if I don't have insurance today, and I need an abortion, I can use the money I am not paying as a fine to get that abortion.  This restricts that option.


    I think that line of reasoning (none / 0) (#17)
    by andgarden on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 12:48:04 PM EST
    isn't going to go very far. You could argue that any new tax or fee has a similar impact.

    Except (5.00 / 2) (#24)
    by CST on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 12:53:51 PM EST
    this is a fee specifically geared towards funding something that prohibits the service you need.

    There are things that aren't "required" in the bill that people need, but this is the only thing I know of that is prohibited.

    And frankly, I am not 100% pro-mandate anyway, specifically because it is a new tax or fee that hits lower income individuals.  With a strong subsidy I could be convinced otherwise, but the fact that taking that subsidy prohibits you from getting a plan that you need is a pretty serious argument against it.


    Another Question (none / 0) (#74)
    by BackFromOhio on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 03:42:54 PM EST
    -- of a non-legal sort. I.e., what additional cost burdens does this amendment place on government by having to pay medical and other expenses for kids?

    This article in Mother Jones explains it well (none / 0) (#82)
    by suzieg on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 06:25:31 PM EST
    So, let me understand this... (5.00 / 2) (#12)
    by Anne on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 12:45:06 PM EST
    After voting for the bill on Saturday night, the bill with the Stupak amendment in it, DeGette and 40 of her colleagues have now announced their intention to vote against any final legislation that comes out of conference if the Stupak amendment survives that process.

    I know they had objections to the amendment before Saturday's vote, because I read about it in numerous places.  Why no threats to tank the bill then?

    Why wasn't DeGette's group's 41 votes enough to kill the bill on Saturday, but now it will be enough to kill it in the next go-round?

    Way to close that barn door, Dems.

    I'm missing something, I guess.

    Well, on Saturday the group of 41 voted (5.00 / 3) (#15)
    by oculus on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 12:47:16 PM EST
    for the health care bill containing Stupak-Pitts amendment.  If they had voted against the bill, they wouldn't need to make so much noise today.

    Yeah, I know - I'm asking why (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by Anne on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 12:52:42 PM EST
    they didn't vote against the bill on Saturday if their 41 votes would have been enough to tank it then.

    Guess I didn't word my question clearly.


    That is what I would like the ladies to (5.00 / 2) (#27)
    by oculus on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 12:54:58 PM EST
    explain to us.  ASAP.

    On the "why" (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by christinep on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 01:20:47 PM EST
    Two possible reasons for the "why now" v "why not then." One: The Stupak agreement reportedly was not reached until late Friday/early Saturday; that left little organization time for the now-41. Two: For many of us Democrats, advancing this Bill now (rather than waiting the usual generation or so)took precedence--especially so in terms of anticipated movement/additions/clarifications in the Senate or the Conference Committee.  A guess: A bargaining chip for the Conference Committee, perhaps to arrive at a clear position that the situation would not devolve beyond the present Hyde Amendment.

    The Stupak amendment was not a secret; (5.00 / 1) (#49)
    by Anne on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 02:26:05 PM EST
    he and Brad Ellsworth had both been working on an amendment for some time; given that scenario, I can find no compelling reason why those who were and are opposed to it thought they needed to wait until there was an actual agreement before entering the strategic fray.  I know DeGette has a history of being very good on issues that affect women, but I think this was a strategic failure, especially given that it should have been obvious that there are anti-choice Dems in the Senate, who would have an interest in preserving this amendment - Casey and Reid and Nelson of Nebraska, to name a few.  


    Now some Senate Democrats, including Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Ben Nelson of Nebraska, are pushing to incorporate the same restrictions in their own bill. Senior Senate Democratic aides said the outcome was too close to call.

    Finally, given what has already been bargained away in this process, I have to say that I have no reason to be confident that the Stupak amendment will go away without something else being lost.


    But which Stupak amendment? (5.00 / 1) (#53)
    by Cream City on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 02:37:09 PM EST
    The one I read about some weeks ago, which was not so far-reaching, or the one we saw this weekend?

    Given that an amendment has actually (5.00 / 2) (#66)
    by Anne on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 03:11:20 PM EST
    passed in the House, I would imagine the intent is to bring the language of the amendment that appears in the House bill into the Senate's bill.

    I saw this today that just made me want to throw something:

    On Friday, Ms. Pelosi met twice with Democratic lawmakers from the Pro-Choice Caucus. In between, she huddled with staff members from the bishops conference, Mr. Stupak and two other leading Roman Catholic lawmakers, Representative Mike Doyle, Democrat of Pennsylvania, and Representative Brad Ellsworth, Democrat of Indiana.

    The representatives of the nation's bishops made clear they would fight the bill if there were not restrictions on abortion. In an extraordinary effort over the last 10 days, the bishops conference told priests across the country to talk about the legislation in church, mobilizing parishioners to contact Congress and to pray for the success of anti-abortion amendments.

    The bishops sent out information to be "announced at all Masses" and included in parish bulletins, and urged priests and parishioners to tell House members: "Please support the Stupak Amendment that addresses essential pro-life concerns." They added: "If these serious concerns are not addressed, the final bill should be opposed."

    Will Saletan at Slate opines that this is the inevitable result of Democrats creating a plan that mixes the public with the private sector:

    Pro-lifers say the health insurance abortion restriction, known as the Stupak amendment, is just an extension of the Medicaid abortion restriction, known as the Hyde amendment. Pro-choicers say the Stupak amendment is much more invasive. The pro-choicers are right. But pro-lifers didn't create that difference. Democrats did. By mixing public and private health care, they complicated the separation of taxation from abortion. If pro-lifers can't keep their money out of the insurance exchanges, they'll fight to keep the insurance exchanges out of abortion.

    Granted, there are less onerous ways to interpret the no-taxes-for-abortion principle. Pelosi tried to sell these alternatives to the pro-life Democrats. They weren't buying.

    I feel like it's time to re-name the Democratic Party: how does the Clusterf**k Party strike you?


    Whatever happened (5.00 / 1) (#76)
    by BackFromOhio on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 03:51:08 PM EST
    to the devoutly religious, such as former Gov. Cuomo (NY), who openly acknowledged the separation of church and state in the U.S. Constitution, but saw no impediment from the Constitution in their practicing their religion as private citizens.  Why do we have to cave to those who think abortion is against their religion and insist that the rest of the nation be legally obligated to follow their religious tenets?  We need someone, anyone, who will at least try to bring the conversation back to where, in my opinion, it should be.

    Ah, that is the question. Stupak's (none / 0) (#56)
    by oculus on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 02:43:46 PM EST
    initial amendment was voted down in committee. But that is not the amendment Pelosi allowed on Sat.

    This is simply explainable by game theory (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by cenobite on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 01:24:26 PM EST
    The order of the outcomes they want are:

    1. HCR bill without abortion restrictions.
    2. No HCR bill.
    3. HCR bill with abortion restrictions.

    So if they voted the bill down in the house on Saturday, there would be no chance of their #1 outcome. If they let it go to conference committee, they might get their #1 outcome, and will get their #2 outcome only if their #1 outcome is impossible. So let it go to conference first.

    What BTD calls "madman political bargaining" is seeing outcome #2 as an acceptable result and making sure everyone else playing believes you will act on it.


    Where's the if/when based on your opponent (5.00 / 1) (#68)
    by Ellie on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 03:15:57 PM EST
    ... always being a lying weasel?

    And your ally (or avatar) always folding no matter how strong the hand (or position of strength)?

    Cause that would be of some value.

    Otherwise, the wheezing geezer GameBoyz are still loaded with their time-honored fave using women's lives as political bargaining chips.


    Maybe (none / 0) (#35)
    by Emma on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 01:17:52 PM EST
    the biggest imperative at the moment was to get something passed and then work toward a final version.

    I'm not saying it's good or smart, b/c I don't know.  But bargaining about the final version isn't over.

    Anyway, I'm pretty much ready to support a Lieberman filibuster just because I can no longer follow what the heck is happening.  I think this amount of complication and confusion was planned so that we would all get health reform fatigue and just acquiesce to whatever is eventually passed.


    Don't give up! (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by christinep on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 01:45:51 PM EST
    It really is driving us all crazy--the HCR specialty sausage. Just remember how many have failed before to advance healthcare in this country. Only before most of it was behind the scenes without the continuous communication we have today. When you think of it as a fight-to-the-bitter-end for insurers (& friends)--looking closely at the $$$ they have made off the present system--then you might get renewed energy seeing that we have the victory within site. Also: I keep thinking about those people who WILL reap immediate benefits (those people who need that help now and not in some indefinite future)because the insurers will be immediately precluded from their abhorrent practices relating to pre-existing condition(s) bars, rescinding policies w/o the highest standard of "clear & convincing" evidence, imposing $ caps on those now suffereing chronic & other illness, etc. That is very real for very real people. My dad used to tell me when I'd had it and wanted to walk away: Hey Chris--now is the precise time to steel your nerve.

    If they so need the help now (5.00 / 2) (#54)
    by Cream City on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 02:38:07 PM EST
    then steel your nerve to reject the current bills and demand change now, not in 2013.

    Yes (5.00 / 3) (#57)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 02:50:56 PM EST
    and DEMAND real health care reform, not something that is just going to be yet another burden (in the way of explosive premiums) for the very people Christine describes.

    Thank you, but I disagree about strategy (5.00 / 2) (#58)
    by christinep on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 02:57:21 PM EST
    It is my firm belief that it we throw it all out, we will end up with nothing...for a long (as in generational) time to come. I base that belief on the historical trajectory of the push for healthcare reformas well as voting patterns in the Congress. And, I certainly respect yours and others dissenting positions. I completely agree with you that it is wrong to wait until 2013 for the initial implementation of the public option (and even longer until 2015 for the important expansion of the option)in part because the sunk costs will show up much earlier with little in the way of a program to show for it. But, the large step forward given the prohibited practices immediately effective and with the framework finally in place cause me to be hopeful and supportive. Peoples' perspectives differ, and they should. I am "steeling my nerve" to see this through at long last.

    When did steeling your nerve (5.00 / 1) (#79)
    by Cream City on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 04:47:30 PM EST
    become the same as throwing it all out?  It's in process.  It's being changed by the day.  Fight for the change that matters -- from what you wrote about how desperately it matters for the needy now.

    Agree (none / 0) (#80)
    by christinep on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 05:49:43 PM EST
    I agree that it is especially important to implement the plan before 2013 (and expand thereafter as quickly as possible.)

    At this point, (5.00 / 2) (#72)
    by Emma on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 03:36:25 PM EST
    I have no idea what it is I'm supposed to be fighting for.  It's clear that what I wanted isn't going to happen.  So, I guess I'm just fighting a rearguard action to make sure it doesn't get worse???

    Besides, it's clear that nobody in D.C. listens to me.  Their agenda is not my agenda and I'm not sure why I should be adopting their agenda as if it accomplishes something because, for the life of me, other than providing massive subsidies to the insurance industry, I can't figure out what they think they're trying to accomplish.

    And I'm not being even a little bit sarcastic.


    If they can't articulate Equal Health for Women (5.00 / 2) (#78)
    by Ellie on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 04:07:03 PM EST
    ... loudly and without apology rather than resort to euphemism, games and ruses (11-dimensional chess) offering up this pathetic excuse shows

    1. they were in a bad bargaining position and should have improved that or walked away from the table; or
    2. their allies and opponents weren't being reasonable, and our lovely phalanx should have walked away from the table; or
    3. they're weakassed and out of their league and they shouldn't be in the game at all.

    Occam's Leg Wax. It hurts, but does the job.

    Letters! Angry speeches at 10th-rate colleges! (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by Ellie on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 01:11:36 PM EST
    Set-pounding boombastic rhetoric on the liberalesque Hope'Along McChangeypants Hour that streams in 0.00002% of homes! Let the oily posedown begin!

    But it's not a meaningful, timely act, and far from a vote.

    Nice try, thanks for playing along.

    I want to take back some of my votes (5.00 / 4) (#40)
    by Cream City on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 01:43:15 PM EST
    too.  Do I just have to also issue a press release and hold a press conference to get credit for being oh so progressive after the fact?  Cool.

    Of all the Civil Rights scourges (5.00 / 4) (#34)
    by NYShooter on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 01:15:12 PM EST
    America, and the world, has faced, and is facing still, the most intractable is sexism. If there's one thing the Primaries taught us is that white males, who have seen their dominance erode over these past few decades, have drawn a line in the sand vis-à-vis women's rights. This is their last bastion of control, and they will fight to the death to keep it.

    At one time our laws claimed Blacks should be valued at ¾ that of Whites. If the Stupak Amendment stays, the female members of Congress should demand of the males that they place a percentage of value number on our female citizens. Since 100% equality for women is out of the question, the least they can do is let us know how much women are "worth."

    Here is Rep. George Miller on (5.00 / 3) (#70)
    by oculus on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 03:20:58 PM EST
    behind the scenes in the House before House passed bill w/Stupak/Pitts amendment:

    Ezra Klein

    Ezra Klein:

    It's striking that the Stupak amendment doesn't really stop the government from subsidizing insurance coverage that includes abortions. The subsidy for employer-based insurance remains in place, for instance. This mainly hits poorer women who will be subsidized on the exchanges.

    Rep. Miller:
    That's one of the concerns. You're in the employer-based system, you have coverage. If you lose your job and go into the exchange, then you don't have coverage.

    Wow, you're coming up with some real gold today (none / 0) (#85)
    by Ellie on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 10:21:15 PM EST
    I'm still going cross-eyed from various versions, political arcana -- ROOLZ!! DA ROOLZ!!! -- and furious backpedaling.

    What I'm really saying is, if my current insurance doesn't cover crossed-eyes, I'm scr3wed.


    The Amendment (none / 0) (#38)
    by lilburro on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 01:31:50 PM EST
    is really screwed up, however this move seems to me to be actually smarter than fighting to have it removed for Friday's vote.  The House Dems know they are going to receive a more moderate, watered down bill than the one they passed - than in itself should make some of the Stupak siding Conservadems happy.  That should get Pelosi some more Dem votes.  So in exchange for passing something inevitably weaker, the progressive Dems in the House can draw some lines in the sand now.

    Gay marriage is spreading (a little bit) while abortion rights are being increasingly constricted.  It's interesting.

    Have any of you read the amendment? (none / 0) (#50)
    by roy on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 02:32:35 PM EST
    I'd like to see the full text of the amendment.  The excerpts I've seen quoted don't seem to support the broad claim that the amendment "restricts women's right to choose any further than current law", nor most of the specific claims floating around such as private plans on the exchange will not be allowed to cover abortions.  It sounds like it's narrowly preventing direct subsidies of abortion -- obviously not everyone will agree on whether that's good, but it's much less controversial.  If it's true.

    The only reliable source I have found is this, which only contains the alleged "purpose" of the amendment, which is not legally binding and is calculated by politicians to make the amendment sound good.  There is the text of a Stupak-Pitts amendment here, but it's an amendment to a different health bill and dated July.  Maybe the same text is used for the amendment to the current bill?

    I'm trying to keep an open mind, but as disclosure I'm pro-choice but libertarian so I oppose government funding of darn near anything.

    Disregard (none / 0) (#51)
    by roy on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 02:36:26 PM EST
    I got links mixed up.  Andgarden posted a link to the text here.

    No insults please (none / 0) (#71)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 03:23:47 PM EST
    I deleted a lot of them.

    BTD, did you just discover the delete button (none / 0) (#84)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 09:43:42 PM EST
    or did you just discover the meaning of the word "insult"? I kid, I kid! BTW, why are you saying NOTHING about the subject of this thread? We need another lawyerly interpretation of this byzantine amendment. Poor Steve M is workin' overtime.

    Based on the "public option" pledge... (none / 0) (#83)
    by lambert on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 07:28:00 PM EST
    ... how many "progressives" do you think will renege?