The backlash over the Stupak amendment has intensified. In the Massachusetts Senate race, frontrunner Martha Coakley has declared that she would have voted against the House bill because of the Stupak amendment:
Attorney General Martha Coakley said this morning that she would have voted against the landmark health care bill approved by the House over the weekend because it includes a provision restricting federal funding for providers of abortion services.
Coakley's main opponent, Representative Mike Capuano, is attacking Coakley over this:
Capuano, giddy over a discernible difference with the presumptive front-runner, called Coakley's comment "manna from heaven."
"I find it interesting and amazing and she would have stood alone among all the pro-choice members of Congress, all the members of the Massachusetts delegation," Capuano said in an interview. "She claims she wants to honor Ted Kennedy's legacy on health care. It's pretty clear that a major portion of this was his bill."
"If she's not going to vote for any bill that's not perfect, she wouldn't vote for any bill in history," Capuano added. "She would have voted against Medicare, the civil rights bill. Every advancement this country has made has been based on bills that had flaws in them ... Realism is something you have to deal with in Washington."
Capuano should have stopped after his first paragraph. Extrapolating from Coakley's statement that she would have voted against Medicare or the Civil Rights Act is ridiculous.
Coakley doesn't seem like she is alone, either. Forty-one House Democrats have sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi declaring that they will kill the health care bill if the Stupak amendment is in the conference report:
Dear Madam Speaker:
As members of Congress we believe that women should have access to a full range of reproductive health care. Health care reform must not be misused as an opportunity to restrict women's access to reproductive health services.
The Stupak-Pitts amendment to H.R. 3962, The Affordable Healthcare for America Act, represents an unprecedented and unacceptable restriction on women's ability to access the full range of reproductive health services to which they are lawfully entitled. We will not vote for a conference report that contains language that restricts women's right to choose any further than current law.
While it is unclear who the 41 Democrats who signed this letter are, there is clearly a growing backlash, led by women, against Bart Stupak's regressive block. Keep in mind that all but one of the Democrats who voted for the Stupak amendment are men--Democratic House women voted 58-1 against it. A major gender divide seems to be opening up in the House Democratic caucus.
Returning to the Massachusetts Senate race for a moment, Mike Capuano appears tone deaf to this gender divide. 58% of the Massachusetts primary electorate is female, and it is highly unlikely they are going to turn against Martha Coakley for a statement like this. He is way down in the polls, and needs to seize on something in order to become competitive before the December 8th primary. However, this is unlikely to do the trick, especially given the post-Stupak environment among progressive activists. While Capuano argues for "realism," Coakley is tapping into the anger.