Saturday, November 07, 2009


64. Sixty-four Democrats fell over themselves today to out-Republican the Republicans and vote for an amendment written by a fellow Democrat to the healthcare bill.
The amendment, written by Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., would bar the new government insurance plan from covering abortions, except in cases of rape, incest, or where the life of the mother is in danger. The Democrats' original legislation would have allowed the government plan to cover abortions.

The amendment also would prohibit people who receive new federal health subsidies from buying insurance plans that include abortion coverage.

When the Stupak amendment first surfaced, some people had hoped that it was simply a bit of belt-and-suspenders redundancy intended to curtail any attempts to circumvent the execrable 1976 Hyde Amendment, which prevents funds allocated via the annual HHS appropriations from being used to pay for abortions. But that last bit, the part about no one being able to buy coverage that includes abortion from the to-be-established government exchange if they're using federal subsidies to acquire said coverage, takes it a step further.

Who were these 64 attempting to appease with this maneuver? Republicans in their districts who won't be voting for them anyway? Some subset of women who are both cash-poor and so conflicted by the potential for having to make a reproductive decision that they'll be relieved to have that bit of agency stripped from their lives?

Thanks to the grandstanding of the Democrats who joined every goddamn Republican in the House except, Arizona's own John Shaddegg (who voted 'present' in a tiny grandstanding protest of his own), the women who can least afford unwanted pregnancies are hit the hardest; if you get a federal subsidy and want abortion coverage, you'll need to buy a separate, abortion-only, policy with your own money. The availability and cost of those policies has not been addressed yet. Additionally, people who don't qualify for subsidies but wish to buy through the exchange fully on their own dime likely will see their options curtailed, as

Abortion-rights supporters say private insurers will not likely offer policies with abortion coverage in the exchange because many potential buyers will be getting federal subsidies.

Around 21 million people are expected to get coverage through the exchange by 2019, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Amazingly, the Jehovah's Witnesses have not pressured any legislators to introduce amendments forbidding taxpayer-subsidized blood transfusions, nor have Orthodox Jews demanded that federal funds stop subsidizing neonatal care for uncircumsized male infants. Hello, House Democrats: abortion--even when rape, incest, and imminent maternal death are not conditioning factors--is. legal. in. America. End of story. Take away women's choices and you will, in some circumstances, inevitably create desperation that will result in horrible outcomes for existing women and their existing families.

Was your rep one of the 64? It's worth a look.

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