Posted on Categories PBC Comments, Politics

One Small Step for Better Health Care; One Giant Step Backward for Choice

I’m not very excited about the health insurance reform that squeaked through the House last Saturday night. There are a few morsels in those 2,000 pages, like striking pre-existing conditions from the list of reasons for denial of coverage. But with coverage mandates, $400 billion in subsidies and a teeny weeny public option (designed to fail?) and the elimination of the Kucinich state-level single payer option, the Pelosi package was teetering on the edge of worse-than-doing-nothing.

Then Bart Stupak pushed it over that edge. At the behest of the US Catholic bishops, Rep. Stupak (DINO, MI) co-sponsored a draconian amendment that expands the Hyde amendment that had banned use of federal money to pay for abortions. Stupak co-authored it with Joe Pitts, a Pennsylvania Republican who rooms with Stupak and the holy adulterer, Sen. John Ensign, at the infamous house on C St. owned by The Family, where Ensign and Gov. Rick Sanford were counseled on their affairs. I’ve talked with Stupak before–he is a former cop who opposed Bush’s illegal wiretaps.

The Stupak amendment is a major intrusion by religious leaders in our secular policies, and was used to hijack the health insurance bill–so that a minority of religious zealots could impose their “values” on the rest of us. Coupled with the collusion of Catholics and Mormons to pass Prop 8 in California, we see the early stages of a theocratic coup in our country.

Stupak’s move was allowed by Speaker Pelosi after Stupak and his allies promised that the pro-lifers would vote for the main bill. But most of them did not, so I guess honesty is not one of their “values”. Now, conservaDems and Republicans in the Senate will insist on even stronger anti-choice language in their bill.

In recent years, choice supporters have rallied and generally won battles on “partial birth” (sic) and parental choice legislation. We were not expecting a battle over abortion rights in this health reform process, but here it is. We must mobilize, and quickly, to support pro-choice legislators who refuse to vote for a final bill with Stupak in it. No compromise!

President Obama and Rahm Emmanuel seem willing to accept almost any health care package so that they can declare victory and claim “change”. I see no evidence that they tried to kill the Stupak amendment, so we must assume that the White House will have to be forced to stand up for a woman’s right to choose. And so we must play hardball: we shall not support Democrats next year or Obama in 2012 if the Stupak amendments are in the final bill.

Here’s a power quote from activist Angela Bonavoglia:

“Once again, the all-male, theoretically celibate Catholic hierarchy has been allowed to exert its outsize influence on proposed American law, further depriving women of basic health care and pushing us one step closer to becoming a Christian theocracy. One is hard pressed to identify another institution—religious or secular—that is so callously and self-righteously anti-woman and still retains such a degree of ‘moral’ authority.”