Thank Digby for reminding us how different the health care debate was when Democrats weren't ashamed of women. See, when Hillary Clinton was First Lady, it was all right to fight for women's access to a full range of reproductive healthcare services. Democrats weren't embarassed by that then, but times have changed.
In the House, Rep. Bart Stupak is trying to both effectively ban insurance coverage for abortion and enact a back door parental/spousal consent law that would apply to the whole country. How's that again?
In sum, the current House bill includes the Capps amendment, explained here by Rep. Lois Capps. I'm not a fan of the Capps amendment, this bill's exemplification of Democratic cowardice in defending women's rights, but one thing anyone with decent reading comprehension can gather is that it forbids federal funding for abortion by continuing the existing ban on same (the same ban that Obama now regards as a hallowed tradition, never to be challenged.) Rep. Stupak has lied, saying that the Capps amendment mandates federal abortion coverage, when it only says that at least one plan covering abortion must be available in the exchange alongside one that doesn't.
As has been pointed out repeatedly, because the majority of private plans now cover abortion, the Capps amendment is a step backward.
Stupak's main lie, popular among misogynists, is that because money is fungible, no effective barrier can be set up between federal premium dollars and coverage for abortion. This was flatly contradicted by the testimony of counsel to the Senate Finance Committee when they were marking up their version of health coverage reform. The Senators were told that not only was it possible to separate the funds, but existing plans already do this in relation to other restrictions on the use of federal money for health care.
Stupak's insistence, based on this lie, is that all women purchasing coverage on the national insurance exchange have to get separate riders for abortion coverage. This will effectively mean that all women on their family insurance plans would have to negotiate with their husband or parents directly and in advance for access to abortion services. Considering that most of the third of American women (around 16%, or a sixth, of the overall population) who have, or will have, abortions didn't expect to be needing them, it's rarely going to sound like a good use of family funds and could pose a serious problem for people who don't have sane, unconditionally loving families.
Stupak's rule will likely have much of the same chilling effect as a spousal and parental consent law. Also, it will further stigmatize those who've had abortions, by singling out women who need the procedure. Even though the lifetime likelihood of having an abortion is nearly twice, among women, the lifetime risk of prostate cancer in men, and not much less than a woman's lifetime chances of getting diabetes.
A Capitol Hill source confirmed to me that if the House bill is opened to amendments on the floor, leadership expects that conservative Democrats and Republicans will combine forces to enact Stupak's ban on abortion coverage in the insurance exchange. If the bill goes to the floor under a closed rule, no amendments allowed, Bart Stupak will have had a lot to do with it.
(More in the extended entry)
|Adding insult to injury, birth control isn't on the list of essential services insurers are required to cover in a basic plan. Thanks, House and Senate! Probably another nod to the religous right, who also hate contraception.
For his part, Obama is merely sorry this divisive issue has to get people "distracted" from such an important debate. Obama's former Senate colleagues consider reproductive health a pain in the buttocks, with Reid having joined Obama in calling for a conscience clause in the bill. (Conscience clauses, btw, are also known as career plans for the extremely lazy.)
If the final bill shakes out as it looks like it's going to, it will be hard for me ever again not to think of Democrats as enablers for abusive partners who get their wives or girlfriends pregnant as a means of control, because their idea of a defense of women's rights to control their bodies has come down to an embarassed, apologetic shuffling of feet.
Update: Being a woman is not a cause. Also.