expanded from cross-post at Huffington Post
The first female Speaker of the House makes history by passing a health care bill that not only doesn’t have a robust public option, but also sells out women’s civil rights. The Republicans acted reprehensibly today, heckling women lawmakers like the chamber was a frat house. Then there were the 39 Democrats who voted against any health care reform. But the worst of it was, in the end, the Stupak amendment passed, 240 yeas, 194 nays, 1 present, with the names of Dems who voted for it totaling 64; the health care bill passing 220 yeas, 215 nays. Now it’s up to the Senate and the conference, because if the Stupak amendment is in the final bill it will be a setback of monumental proportions for women.
Yesterday, long before Mr. Stupak beat Speaker Pelosi, the insult coming down was foreshadowed. Driving in DC I heard Speaker Nancy Pelosi on C-SPAN, in response to a question from a reporter about a rumor circulating that she was angry about the Stupak amendment making it to the floor for a vote, brag that she was actually part of making in manifest. The New York Times has the quote:
“I was part of recommending that it come to the floor,” she said. “Both sides are whipping, the pro-choice side and others who want to support the amendment. But no, that was my recommendation to allow a vote on that amendment.”
That stomach churning moment yielded a nightmare manifestation from the first female Speaker of the House in history, and a Democratic Party that is getting further and further away from where we need to go on women’s civil right in the 21st century. The Times catches a critical element, which I believed made Pelosi blink. Two words: Catholic bishops:
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.
But let’s be honest. It was Pres. Obama who opened the door to sell us out when he decided to put the Hyde Amendment in the budget, something Bill Clinton never did. But Mr. Obama didn’t stop there. During the stimulus fight, at the first sign of displeasure, our President personally asked that contraceptives be taken out. Now the President seems ready to finish the job, with Democrats in the House helping him do it.
This means that any woman opting to join the exchanges would not have access to full women’s health care and abortion coverage. Segue to Ezra Klein:
Because of the limits placed on the exchanges, most of the participants will have some form of premium credit or affordable subsidy. That means most will be ineligible for abortion coverage. The idea that people are going to go out and purchase separate “abortion plans” is both cruel and laughable. If this amendment passes, it will mean that virtually all women with insurance through the exchange who find themselves in the unwanted and unexpected position of needing to terminate a pregnancy will not have coverage for the procedure. Abortion coverage will not be outlawed in this country. It will simply be tiered, reserved for those rich enough to afford insurance themselves or lucky enough to receive from their employers.
Of course, this discussion on health care doesn’t impact wealthier women or women with access and means. Something I never forget.
… .. It was back in the late 1970s and I was living on the New Jersey coast, just outside New York, before I hit Broadway. My boyfriend and I were very careful about sex, never forgetting to use contraception. In fact, we both protected ourselves so we wouldn’t become one of the small minority where protection doesn’t work. It happened anyway. It’s a very personal story, but lets just say what I went through never leaves my consciousness.
After what I experienced so long ago, to this day I think of poor women who don’t have the support or means to take care of themselves. What might have happened if my boyfriend hadn’t supported my decision, but also helped me pull it off. The desperation women must feel when they have so system on which they can rely, so they’re forced to endure a pregnancy and a child they cannot handle. I put myself in their place and I shudder at what might have been for me.
There is no health care bill worth supporting that sells out women’s civil rights.
Right now every woman who values her civil rights should understand how the gay community feels. Democrats just sold us out too.
Progressives in the House should have killed the bill.
Civil rights begin with autonomy over our own body. If we don’t have that we have nothing. So, to hear Rep. Clyburn talk about “privacy rights” after passing the House bill was laughable.
But at least Mr. Obama and Speaker Pelosi’s Democratic House got us closer to an “historic health care win.” That they did it on the backs of women’s civil rights isn’t mentioned, though some of us will never forget.
It’s up to the Senate now and the conference to strip Stupak out, with help from Pres. Obama, of course. He will help, right?