Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Backwards Move In Health Care

The Stupak amendment should have never been allowed to be introduced in the House, and it should never be allowed into the final Health Care bill, as it would overwrite already existing laws in order to restrict the legal right of choice even more. The Hyde Amendment already restricts Federal funds for abortion. Shame on those who still aim to have further dominance over women and their bodies and limit their access to medical insurance coverage. Especially those "elites" who think they are "specially chosen" and can dictate rules that they don't always follow themselves.

Why The Stupak Amendment Is A Monumental Setback For Abortion Access

Wonk Room, Think Progress:
If you thought that just because abortion is a constitutional right and part of basic reproductive health care it would be available in the reformed health insurance market known as the Exchange, think again. The Stupak Amendment, passed Saturday night by the House of Representatives after a compromise deal fell apart, potentially goes farther than any other federal law to restrict women’s access to abortion.

The claim that it only bars federal funding for abortions is simply false. Here’s what the Stupak Amendment does:
  1. It effectively bans coverage for most abortions from all public and private health plans in the Exchange...
  2. It includes only extremely narrow exceptions...
  3. It allows for a useless abortion “rider”...
  4. It allows for discrimination against abortion providers...

Will the Stupak Amendment Force Women Who've Miscarried to Lose Insurance Coverage?

I think so.

Robin Marty, RH Reality Check:
This weekend, a group of male pro-life Democrats gambled with women's health, and women lost. By broadly writing in that insurers can chose whether or not to cover "abortion services," pro-life amendments don't just affect their intended victims -- women seeking a way out of an unwanted or medically harmful pregnancy. They also affect another group of victims -- women whose pregnancies have already ended but have not yet miscarried.

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Hospitals and doctors in general do not have terminology to classify a difference between the termination of a live pregnancy and one in which the fetus has already died. To them, a D&C is a D&C, regardless of the state of the "conception materials" removed.

Who Subsidizes Abortion?

Eyal Press, The Notion:
As is now widely known, added to the health care reform bill just passed by the House of Representatives was a provision barring access to abortion called the Stupak-Pitts Amendment. Passed with the support of sixty-four Democrats, Stupak-Pitts doesn't merely prohibit coverage of abortion in a public option. It also forbids women who receive a federal subsidy from purchasing any health insurance plan that covers the procedure, even if the abortion is paid out of a separate pool of private premium dollars (for all the background and details, see my colleague Emily Douglas' post).

If this highly regressive amendment makes its way into the legislation that Barack Obama eventually signs, millions of less affluent women who obtain access to affordable health insurance will thus join the ranks of low-income women on Medicaid, most of whom live in states that don't cover abortion procedures. The two-tiered system that dictates who in America has "choice" (more privileged women do, less affluent women do not) will be further entrenched.

But if the social consequences of Stupak-Pitts are clear, the logic is not. Supporters of the provision evidently want to assure taxpayers that they will not be forced to subsidize abortion in any way. But if they are serious about this, why haven't they drawn up an amendment abolishing tax breaks for employer-sponsored health insurance? As Jonathan Cohn has pointed out, this is by far the largest subsidy in health care policy today. (It is also a regressive subsidy, but that's another story.) If the employer-sponsored insurance that a worker gets happens to cover abortion – which, in roughly half the cases, it does – than that taxpayer already subsidizes abortion.

The purists who don't want any of their dollars to subsidize abortion have another problem. As Amy Sullivan of Time has observed, plenty of pro-life people likely have no idea whether their private health insurance plans include abortion services (in which case their premiums indirectly fund the procedure). The same goes for pro-life organizations. Sullivan did a bit of digging and found out that Focus on the Family provides its employees insurance through Principal, a company that -- you guessed it -- covers abortion procedures.

The Price of Health Reform: Abortion Rights?

Why Bart Stupak's last-minute amendment to the health care bill is even more radical than you think.

By Rachel Morris, MoJo:
The Stupak amendment mandates that no federal funds can be used to pay for an abortion or "cover any part of any health plan" that includes coverage of an abortion, except in cases where the mother’s life is in danger or the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest.

The first part of the amendment isn't new. The 1976 Hyde Amendment already prevents the use of federal dollars to pay for most abortions. Where pro-lifers won big was on the second part, which could significantly limit the availability of private insurance plans that cover the procedure.

That’s because Stupak’s amendment doesn’t just apply to the public option—the lower-cost plan to be offered by the government. The House health care bill will also provide subsidies to help people and small businesses purchase plans on an exchange. This represents a lucrative new market for insurers: anyone earning less than $88,000 for a family of four qualifies for assistance, as well as certain small companies. But to gain access to these new customers, insurers will have to drop abortion coverage from their plans.

This is About One More Burden for Women Navigating the Health Care System

C and L, VideoCafe:
Dr. Nancy Snyderman sums up how a lot of us feel about this absolutely horrid Stupak amendment. No, it's not fair and it is outrageous. It's bad enough we've got one party that wants to keep women living in the 1950's. We don't need two. And we don't need the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops writing legislation for Democrats.

Catholic Bishops Call the Shots on Health Care Reform

James Ridgeway, MoJo:
We now know that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), which in the end run reports to Rome, was involved in the crafting and promotion of the Stupak Amendment, the provision that transformed a tepid health care victory for the Democrats into a serious loss for women’s reproductive rights. Hard as it is to believe, this sober conclave seems to have outstripped even the screaming fundamentalist Protestants in wielding influence over Congressional policymaking in this instance.

The Stupak Amendment was promulgated by a devout Catholic Democrat from Michigan, who is now being celebrated as a pro-life hero. He and 63 other Democrats insisted on the anti-choice measure, under threat of crushing the whole bill, and they reportedly worked with the USCCB to come up with "acceptable" language for the amendment. The bishops apparently had a direct line to the Repubican leadership, as well: According to Politico, "Cardinal Francis George, archbishop of Chicago and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, called Republican leader John Boehner to make sure the GOP didn’t play any games with the Stupak (abortion) amendment, sources said.”

The Rachel Maddow Show: Bart Stupak's C-Street Gang

C and L, VideoCafe
Rachel Maddow runs down the list for us of C-Street family members who also voted for Bart Stupak’s anti-abortion amendment yesterday. Nothing like having what amounts to a secretive religious cult making health care policy for women in the United States. As Rachel noted that list includes:

Rep. Bart Stupak D-MI
Rep. Joe Pitts R-PA
Rep. Ike Skelton D-MO
Rep. Mike McIntyre D-NC
Rep. John Tanner D-TN
Rep. Lincoln Davis D-TN
Rep. Dan Boren D-OK
Rep. Heath Shuler D-NC

Jeff Sharlet joined Rachel to discuss The C-Street Family's ever growing influence within the Democratic Party.

What's Really Pissing Me Off

Meteor Blades, DailyKos:
"Irrational." "Hypersensitive." "Overreacting." "Hysterical."

Women recognize these words all too well. They're put-downs many of them have had thrown at them all their lives anytime they raise issues about their treatment in relationships, school, the workplace or society at large.

These words and others of similar ilk have found their way into diaries and comments here at Daily Kos yesterday and today around the abomination known as the Stupak-Pitts Amendment. Calm down, little lady, is the tone. Get real. Be adults. Doncha know how politics really works?


Many of these sexist critiques are then followed up by a distortion of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment itself, all of which amounts to the view that this is no big deal, that it does nothing more than the Hyde Amendment, the sexist, classist abomination that has been on the books in one form or another since 1976. In fact, as mcjoan pointed out earlier today, the Stupak-Pitts coathanger amendment goes a good deal further than Hyde.

So besides engaging in put-downs, the patronizers have it dead wrong. This isn't a tempest in a teapot. It matters. And it matters big time, as at least 40 members of Congress led by Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette have made pretty damn clear. If the Democratic leadership doesn't come to grips with this, they're heading the party for big trouble next November, an election month that already may be a difficult time for the party given the state of an economy that may be getting better on paper but is, at best, many months away from even beginning to trickle down to where people actually live their lives.

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Over the decades, while engaging in a campaign of intimidation, harassment and murder, the anti-abortion movement has managed, nibble by nibble, to get ever-more restrictive legislation into place. Ultimately, the right of affluent women to obtain an abortion hasn't been much affected - except in the case of late-term procedures. But affluent women always had options even when abortion was illegal in every state. They could fly to Puerto Rico or Japan and get a safe abortion there without having to risk potentially lethal chemicals or abortions at the hands of unlicensed doctors or other providers operating on somebody's kitchen table in less than sterile conditions.

Thanks to Hyde, low-income women in most states are still at a disadvantage when it comes to getting an abortion. Stupak-Pitts, if it survives the conference process, will not only reinforce this classist attack on women, it will also broaden it.

Being ferociously opposed to it is, therefore, not irrational or hypersensitive or over-reactive. It's called standing up for progressive values.

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