Late Friday night Nancy Pelosi and the House of Representatives were burning the midnight oil trying to figure out a way to pass a health care bill. One problem remained, abortion. After years of pestering the democrats it once again reared its ugly head becoming a hurdle for the historic vote to take place. Ms Pelosi, an ardent defender of abortion rights, had no choice but to give in and allow a vote on Stupak’s amendment. In the end, the pro-life lawmakers united and helped pass the bill by a vote of 220 to 215.
Without getting into all the other complexities and problems of the 1990 page bill, let’s just look at what the Stupak Amendment is, how it affects abortions rights, and its future in the Senate. As Johnny noted in Quick Hits, some of the far left are outraged by the amendment. Rachel Maddow says “With a single amendment Congress is making a legal medical procedure potentially unattainable for a huge number of American women.”
Taking it even further Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said, “It was extremely painful for me to feel compelled to vote for a bill that contained that kind of restriction on a woman’s ability to make her own reproductive choices,”
Let’s be clear, this amendment has nothing to do with a women’s ability to make her choices. It won’t even make a legal procedure that currently cost around 350$ cost more. What it will do is:
Restrict only the new marketplace (a.k.a. the “exchange”) that the bill would create for uninsured individuals and small businesses. It should have no effects on the group insurance policies that cover many American workers now. The Stupak amendment would prohibit federal dollars (That’s what Obama wants right?) from being used to buy any policy offered through the exchange that covered abortions other than those related to rape, incest or danger to the mother’s life.
So what exactly changed that has the pro-choice crowd so upset? From what I understand, they make the argument that the poorest women will be left unable to pay for elective abortions. So what do the poorest of poor women do now to afford abortions? From the latest statistics I have found in 2001 is that only 13% of abortions were paid for by health insurance companies. Some states pay for “medically necessary” abortions through their own Medicaid program. From what I can see the poorest of the poor should still be able to receive their abortion coverage, but it may be a different story for the working class poor who have no choice but to buy insurance policies through the insurance exchange. The question of public funding for abortions has been an integral part of the battle over abortion rights for years, however, it seems to me that the majority of the public and even Obama wants to limit the federal funding.
On to the Amendments future. From early reports, it looks to be much tougher to pass similar legislation in the Senate. The Senate is much more pro-choice, and it looks as though longtime abortion rights stalwart Senator Barbara Boxer will be able to stop any vote on a bill with language resembling the Stupak amendment. Then on Monday night President Obama went on ABC news and hinted that something would need to change.