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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Democrats Sold Their Party's Reproductive Soul

I'm not sure the fallout from the Stupak Amendment passing has been fully felt.

Reproductive rights is the heart and soul of the Democratic Party. Democratic activists take as a given that Democratic politicians will protect a women's right and ability to choose. Last night the Democrats all but gave away a woman's ability to choose, although they still gave lip service to a woman's right to choose.

64 Democrats voted in favor of the Stupak Amendment, which greatly expands the ban on federal funding of abortion, and reaches deep to make it difficult for women to obtain private health insurance covering abortion. 219 Democrats voted in favor of a final bill incorporating the amendment.

This is a stunning development, one which anti-abortion activists could not have imagined just weeks ago. The Speaker of the House and Democratic majority, notwithstanding their lip service to women's reproductive rights, were willing to throw those rights aside to hand the Obama administration a temporary legislative victory.

That victory already has evaporated, as the House bill has been pronounced dead-on-arrival at the Senate. But the effects of casting aside traditional Democratic protection for a women's ability to choose will be felt for a long time.

The Stupak Amendment is the new norm. Any future health care legislation will use the Stupak formula as a given.

Anh "Joseph" Cao (R-La), the sole Republican voting in favor of the health care bill last night, has been harshly criticised for exchanging his vote for a promise of federal aid to his district.

Cao sold his seat last night for something. The Democrats sold their party's soul for nothing.

Now tell me again what a great victory the Democrats achieved last night.

UPDATE: I think it's beginning to sink in:

The bitterness will only grow and will gnaw away at the women's movement, as Democrats celebrate what Obama calls the "courageous" victory, and dance.

Now Politico is on the story: Pelosi's hardball tactics on the abortion issue brought "tears from some veteran female lawmakers."

UPDATE No. 2: Told ya so:

President Obama and Senate Democrats sought on Sunday to generate momentum from the House's passage of health-care legislation, even as a new hurdle emerged: profound dismay among abortion-rights supporters over antiabortion provisions inserted into the House bill....

"There's going to be a firestorm here," [Colorado Rep. Diana] DeGette said. "Women are going to realize that a Democratic-controlled House has passed legislation that would prohibit women paying for abortions with their own funds. . . . We're not going to let this into law."

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  1. Correct me if I'm wrong, but all Stupak does is block federal subsidies for abortions that are not the result of rape, incest, or life-threatening medical condition. Subsidizing some abortions seems to expand abortion rights to me. Am I wrong?

  2. @JohnJ - The main significance is that the amendment requires the offer of two types of qualified policies, one covering abortion and one not covering it. So the one covering the procedure almost certainly will be more expensive. Any plan offering abortion coverage will have to demonstrate that it is self-funding, and that no federal funds are used even indirectly, such as through credits for low income people.

  3. I believed that Kennedy warned in Gonzalez about government abortion policy that does not provide for a mental health exception, so it's possible that Kennedy would provide that not subsidizing "mental health" abortions when other abortions are subsidized is a violation of a woman's right to an abortion.

    I really try to look on the bright side of things, but it just seems to me that this is an expansion of abortion, even if it only means subsidizing certain abortions and not others.

  4. I'm sure you're right that the House bill is effectively a show, anyway. But suppose a Senate bill passes and a conference manages to merge other differences to patch together something a majority in both houses would go for -- except that the House vote on Stupak and the need for 60 votes in the Senate means that funds for abortion have been banned in both the House and Senate and cannot be slipped back in by the conferees.

    Then, will a House majority enact a final bill and Obama sign it with the abortion-funding ban? I'm not at all sure that health care will trump choice for a big segment of the Democratic "base." The dilemma grows to the extent that you project expansion of the numbers of people who have some form of direct or indirect federal subsidy of their health insurance (at least theoretically, that's everyone).

    So will NOW, NARAL, Emily's List and all those feminist members of the DNC, et al. really allow this to be set as the likely standard for the future? Seems unlikely without a huge fight.

  5. I think the damage with the feminists (a group to which I delightfully and willingly eschew "membership", frankly) isn't so much in what comes later - such as perhaps canceling it out later (which wouldn't surprise me) - as in the appearance of wantonly tossing an entire group of the far left's most fervent, rabid supporters over the side, so to speak.

    That, the feminists and their avid proponents will neither forgive nor forget anytime soon. Let the games begin!

  6. "The Democrats sold their party's soul for nothing." Some entity other than the Party took possession of this 'soul' some time ago. They passed on the 'choice' in favor of power; it will not suffice. No one knows the state of another man's soul...if this little sale of the Democrats move this country a Widow's mite closer to the end of slavery, er, abortion, then very good. A day will come in the future when people will look back at the murder of children in the womb as we do at slavery and wonder, "What were they thinking?". "IHS"

  7. Is it true there are hefty IRS fines and penalties for NOT purchasing healthcare insurance? If so, this has to be the most egregious violation of our civil and econmic liberties. Wouldn't this even give pause to the most ardent Obama supporter? How is that no one has sounded this fire alarm?

  8. Do I understand that any coverage providing abortion must be entirely private? No federal dollars allowed at all? Then if one assumes that the price and program controls will eliminate private insurance what will happen to insurance-covered abortion?

    Eclusively abortion insurance plans are illegal under the bill because any health insurance plan must provide all of the goodies identified by the 100 or so beauracracies and the 535 geniuses residing in Congress--at the specfied price. I have read elsewhere that private health insurance will go out of business very quickly because of those price and benefit controls.

    I guess what will occur is just another middle of the night amendment to some innocuous bill that will modify the health care Americans are allowed to include abortions. All it takes is a motivated special (Dem) interest, some campaign dollars, and a bit of graft and voila!, there is your amendment.

  9. On the Dem side Abortion is their high sacrifice - like Communion to Catholics. To a die-hard Dem, their political faith requires abortion on demand at all stages of life. Dems work hard to make sure every mother has a right to kill her and the father's baby.

    Looking at recent election returns we see the majority of voters focused on fiscal conservatism ahead of social conservatism. They seem not to object to social conservatism if it is not 'rammed down their throat.' I campaigned in VA for the R ticket - I spoke with many people, take that to the 2010 elections.

    The problem for the Dems are these stats from polls: 20% of Americans are liberal. 40% of Americans are conservative. 30% of Americans tend to be a mix with a decidedly libertarian bent.

    The Dems struggle knowing this while pushing their agenda. They work tirelessly to project first to themselves and then to the greater population that their 20% minority view is an 80% view held by all Americans. Not true.

    When a Democratic Congress supports the Stubak amendment as they have, then the 'true Dem believers' have cognitive dissonance - they go nuts since reality is breaking down their world. Can't have that - hence the aggressive opposition to anyone and everything that discredits their world view.

  10. "Last night the Democrats all but gave away a woman's ability to choose..."

    This is not a question of choice, but of funding.

    I've assumed this blog reflects a moderate to conservative perspective on social issues, including abortion. Was I wrong?

  11. I think I see your point that the radical left will come unhinged at the denial of federal funding of abortion-on-demand. Even subsidizing some abortions isn't enough for them.

    We'll see how it plays out.

  12. This last comment, John Barry's, was exactly the sort of thing that makes republicans look completely out of touch. It does a disservice to the conservative cause, and it bothers me that more sensible conservatives are willing to put up with it.
    America is not a Christian country. Americans are overwhelmingly Christian, yes, but our government is secular; religious law should not apply to it. Further, alleging that Obama is on the "Side of Satan" is simply offensive. This is the elected President of our country. Even if we disagree with his politics, to imply Satanic ties is simply insane. Even before that, comparing Planned Parenthood to the SS Concentration camps is simply crude. The bizarre qualifier, "Sure Hitler did some good"--a highway project? You felt a highway project enough to merit interrupting a condemnation of genocide?
    This is tasteless, childish, and repulsive. If conservative values are going to retake America, this is the sort of thing that needs to stay out of the discourse. It's simply too neolithic.