Most progressives and pro-choice Democrats properly hate the Stupak (D-MI) anti-choice amendment in the House healthcare bill because it legislates beyond the Hyde amendment which bans direct payments from government for abortions. If I was voting this weekend I still would have voted for the bill that hit the floor of the House. However the final healthcare bill must not limit woman from using their own money to buy into a private healthcare plan that covers abortion care, even if it is subsidized.
It has been reported that 40 Democrats will not voted for the final House healthcare bill with the Stupak amendment intact and 40 will not vote for it without the amendment. The Democratic Party has become the big tent party over the last couple of decades. There is only one moderate Republican in the House but there are surely dozens of conservative Democrats. Is the abortion issue in the healthcare bill the flash point for a Democratic Civil War?
In an interview with John Tapper the president chimed in with his position on the anti-choice language in the House healthcare bill. It sounds like he wants to end this Democratic skirmish before it escalates.
“TAPPER: Here’s a question a lot of Senate Democrats want to know. You said, when you gave your joint address to Congress, that under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions. This amendment passed Saturday night which not only prohibits abortion coverage in the public option, but also prohibits women who receive subsidies from taking out plans that — that provide abortion coverage. Does that meet the promise that you set out or does it over reach, does it go too far?
OBAMA: You know, I laid out a very simple principle, which is this is a health care bill, not an abortion bill. And we’re not looking to change what is the principle that has been in place for a very long time, which is federal dollars are not used to subsidize abortions. And I want to make sure that the provision that emerges meets that test — that we are not in some way sneaking in funding for abortions, but, on the other hand, that we’re not restricting women’s insurance choices, because one of the pledges I made in that same speech was to say that if you’re happy and satisfied with the insurance that you have, that it’s not going to change. So, you know, this is going to be a complex set of negotiations. I’m confident that we can actually arrive at this place where neither side feels that it’s being betrayed. But it’s going to take some time.
TAPPER: Do you think that amendment is status quo or does it lean a little bit in one direction or the other?
OBAMA: I think that there are strong feelings on both sides. And what that tells me is that there needs to be some more work before we get to the point where we’re not changing the status quo. And that’s the goal. The goal here is to make sure that people who have health insurance have greater stability and security, people who don’t have health insurance get the ability to buy it affordably and that we’re driving down costs.
And, you know, I think everybody understands that there’s going to be work to be done on the Senate side. It’s not going to match up perfectly with the House side. But obviously, it was a historic night for the House. We’ve never been this far. And I’m very confident that my colleagues in the Senate are going to say to themselves that we’ve got to get this done.”
The way the Stupak amendment was added to the House bill was political extortion. There needs to be a better way to comply with the Hyde amendment that is current law and not hinder a woman’s right to have full reproductive healthcare.
UPDATE: The following polls have been added at the suggestion of nicole473: