Whose health care victory?

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that, last night, the House passed a health-care reform bill. I got this lovely email from Barack Obama telling me what a victory this is:

This evening, at 11:15 p.m., the House of Representatives voted to pass their health insurance reform bill. Despite countless attempts over nearly a century, no chamber of Congress has ever before passed comprehensive health reform. This is history.
But you and millions of your fellow Organizing for America supporters didn’t just witness history tonight — you helped make it. … You stood up. You spoke up. And you were heard.

Actually, I wasn’t heard. Because I think I made pretty damn clear (as did Obama, in several speeches during the campaign) that reproductive health care is essential health care.
So what the FUCK is this Stupak amendment doing attached to the health-reform bill? You know, that amendment that takes away women’s access to health care? It reads:

The amendment will prohibit federal funds for abortion services in the public option. It also prohibits individuals who receive affordability credits from purchasing a plan that provides elective abortions. However, it allows individuals, both who receive affordability credits and who do not, to separately purchase with their own funds plans that cover elective abortions. It also clarifies that private plans may still offer elective abortions.

THIS IS FUCKED. [Update: A few more details at LGM.] NARAL for has more, as does Amanda.
As Sarah Jaffe put it, “Bart Stupak thinks he knows what I can do with my body. And Congress is voting to let him make that choice.” A full 64 Democrats voted to take away your right to medical care. Shocker of shockers, they’re all the vast majority are dudes. A couple of them are even men who have claimed to be pro-choice.
Writes Pilgrim Soul,

Charmingly I expect that in the next few days all your liberal dude friends will be trying to explain to you that this is really no big deal, look, they had to get the Republicans/”Democrats” onboard SOMEHOW, this is just a battle but we won the war, etc etc.

Actually, they’ll be explaining that it’s not a big deal because the Stupak amendment can be stripped out by the conference committee (which I very much hope it will, but am not holding my breath) and because there are potential loopholes (though I have yet to hear a convincing one).
On some level, I don’t care about the nitty-gritty details of this amendment. This isn’t just about how the money is allocated or what workarounds exist. This has me so incredibly infuriated because it further segregates abortion as something different, off the menu of regular health care. It is a huge backward step in the battle to convey — not just politically, but to women in their everyday lives — that reproductive health care is normal and necessary, and must be there if (or, more accurately, when) you need it.
This also sets apart women’s rights from the Democratic/progressive/whatever agenda. As something expendable. But fundamental rights for women are not peripheral. They are core. And not just because of so-called “progressive” values. In a political sense, too: Seeing as how the Democratic party relies on women voters to win elections, you would think they would have come around to this no-brainer by now.
It’s pretty fucking cramped underneath this bus, what with 50% of Americans down here.
And now, lest we get too depressed, a few next steps:

Other suggestions?
UPDATE: Go read Shark-Fu.
UPDATE II: The Washington Post reports,

But abortion-rights supporters are vowing to strip the amendment out, as the focus turns to the Senate and the conference committee that would resolve differences between the two bills.
Although House liberals voted for the bill with the amendment to keep the process moving forward, Rep. Diana DeGette (Colo.) said she has collected more than 40 signatures from House Democrats vowing to oppose any final bill that includes the amendment — enough to block passage.
“There’s going to be a firestorm here,” DeGette said. “Women are going to realize that a Democratic-controlled House has passed legislation that would prohibit women paying for abortions with their own funds. . . . We’re not going to let this into law.”

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119 Comments

  1. kisekileia
    Posted November 9, 2009 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    Stupak, sorry. Got my pro-life names confused.

  2. Kathleen6674
    Posted November 9, 2009 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    The bill passed by five votes. I would say no, this bill would not have passed without the Stupak Amendment. It was needed (unfortunately) to get the Democrats living in heavily anti-abortion districts to vote for the health care bill itself.

  3. jeana
    Posted November 9, 2009 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Actually, I bet they thought they’d get Republican votes with the anti-choce amendment. And they only got one Republican vote in total. They try and try to kiss up to the Republicans–people who actually say they’ll not vote for health care reform mostly because they want Obama to fail. So the bill we get is watered down and not nearly as robust and effective as it could be. Why? To try to please Republicans who wouldn’t vote for it anyway. I bet none of those conservative Dems who voted for the bill did so because of the anti-choice amendment. It was not necessary. So placing blame and being disgusted are appropriate reactions. But action is the next step.

  4. jeana
    Posted November 9, 2009 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    What I’d like to see is all the people who fight for the rights of insurance companies when they kick out people with pre-existing conditions and they deny coverage for needed procedures and medicines to rise up and show their outrage at this obvious slap in the face to “free market principles”. I mean, they don’t like any kind of regulation at all, so it will be interesting if they stand up for the principles they pretend are so near and dear to their hearts. But I’m not holding my breath.

  5. icyouhealth
    Posted November 9, 2009 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Hi,
    My name is Laura and I am an outreach coordinator for the health videos website icyou.com.
    I wanted to add to the discussion by posting a couple of links to videos all about health care reform. For those of you looking for more nonpartisan, unbiased information about health care reform, politics and general policy we have topic pages for each of these areas of interest.
    http://www.icyou.com/topics/po…..are-policy
    http://www.icyou.com/topics/po…..are-reform
    http://www.icyou.com/topics/politics-policy/healthcare-politics
    Check out icyou for information on more health-related topics…we update daily!
    Thanks,
    Laura

  6. aleks
    Posted November 9, 2009 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    “Actually, I bet they thought they’d get Republican votes with the anti-choce amendment.”
    Why do you think that? The consensus among Republicans to oppose HCR has been clear and stated for months. Cao only supported it because he represents a liberal district and fears a Democratic challenger more than a Hoffman-style primary challenger. Not very many Republicans are in that position.
    “I bet none of those conservative Dems who voted for the bill did so because of the anti-choice amendment.”
    What convinces you that mostly pro-life Democrats representing conservative districts would have still voted for the bill if Pelosi had blocked them from getting the Stupak amendment inserted?

  7. figleaf
    Posted November 9, 2009 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    I thought anti-choice monsters on the right (regardless of party) and their Stockholm-syndrome-stunned fellow travelers had already skinned reproductive rights to the bone in the “negotiations” previously. This feels like they just wanted to pour salt on raw wounds. Just because they could.
    Stupack and his masters also obviously crafted it as a bomb to be dropped at the last minute — I can’t believe how unprepared the House managers were. I’m pretty sure that if they hadn’t been so blindsided they might have mounted an effective opposition instead of letting it get to a floor vote.
    For instance it would have been nice if anybody had asked for a CBO score on the Stupak amendment. Hard to imagine a $500 termination hitting the Federal Budget harder than $10,000 for a health term delivery, or $20-30,000 for a c-section, let alone $100,000+ for care for a woman who had a preeclampsia-induced stroke late in an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy.
    That might have been a zero-cost no-brainer now, while coverage can still be declined because pregnancy is a preexisting condition. But presumably the new bill is going to stick both private insurers and any public providers with an itemized bill.
    A CBO score will almost certainly reflect that. And it’s not too late! While it’s too late for the House version a big fat CBO score would complicate its survival in the Senate and during reconciliation.
    Add this to the list of things to be done sooner than later.
    figleaf

  8. figleaf
    Posted November 9, 2009 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Something else we can work on to stop this, from Matt Yglesias: bring pressure to bear to make sure the composition of the conference committee and the rules it operates under keep this abomination out of the conference report. After Saturday’s ambush is something else that should *not* be left to chance. Anymore.
    figleaf

  9. FollowTheMomeraths
    Posted November 9, 2009 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Up Next: Arrest/conviction required for abortion in cases of rape and incest.

  10. jeana
    Posted November 9, 2009 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Why wouldn’t the conservative Dems vote for it? I’m sure they were under pressure from Obama and the Democratic party. And their constituents, most of whom want access to health care. I could be wrong, but those against health care reform aren’t going to vote for it simply because there’s an anti-abortion part to it. The reason I think this is that abortion isn’t the main issue for the majority of voters; only for a tiny slice of voters. If a person thinks health care reform is going to turn us into Commies, allowing private companies to provide abortion services doesn’t seem to me to be that great an issue.

  11. jeana
    Posted November 9, 2009 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    So what if the amendment said that no insurance company that provided coverage for sex change operations could participate in the public option? Would you say the same thing? Is it no big deal that a segment of the population who wants and needs certain services will not be able to get them solely because of conservative/religious objections? I’m not talking about people of means–they can get a private abortion, no problem. That’s not the main issue, although it is beyond irritating that virtually all private abortion coverage will be unavailable if it goes through. This is not a victory for women. And it’s not a victory for poor women. It’s a victory in a very broad sense for people in general, but it tramples on the reproductive rights of females and the males who care about them. And it’s a slap in the face to all of us.

  12. aleks
    Posted November 9, 2009 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    Why wouldn’t the conservative Dems vote for it?
    Because it’s unpopular in their conservative districts, and/or against their own interests and principles.
    I’m sure they were under pressure from Obama and the Democratic party.
    In a red district, one is hurt by association with Obama and the Democratic party and helped by being seen to defy them.
    And their constituents, most of whom want access to health care.
    In red districts most of their constituents probably do not want this HCR bill. The fact that you and I think they’re being foolish and short-sighted is irrelevant.
    I could be wrong, but those against health care reform aren’t going to vote for it simply because there’s an anti-abortion part to it. The reason I think this is that abortion isn’t the main issue for the majority of voters; only for a tiny slice of voters.
    In red districts held by Democrats it’s a major issue. Back when there were Republicans who represented blue districts many of them were pro-choice.
    If a person thinks health care reform is going to turn us into Commies, allowing private companies to provide abortion services doesn’t seem to me to be that great an issue.
    You are right, people who oppose HCR in principle on such apocalyptic terms (and I’m not mocking you, there are many of them) won’t forgive voting for HCR because of the Stupak amendment. But they’re not the only voters out there.
    There are pro-lifers who support HCR, and pro-lifers who might forgive a vote for HCR but not one they perceive as expanding abortion coverage in a government subsidized program. A politician’s job is to be good enough for a majority of their constituents, not perfect to anyone or acceptable to everyone.

  13. jeana
    Posted November 9, 2009 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    “A politician’s job is to be good enough for a majority of their constituents, not perfect to anyone or acceptable to everyone.”
    There wouldn’t even be a Stupek amendment if the media were honest and stopped every conservative each time he or she said health care reform would force abortions or even provide abortions. But the conservative media is dishonest and millions of people are ignorant. It should be up to politicians to do what is in the best interest of their people; not to do what they perceive will get them votes. And still, virtually all Republicans voted against the bill, which still tells me that adding an anti-abortion portion was not necessary. Although I understand your viewpoint.

  14. jeana
    Posted November 9, 2009 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    And actually, lots of those with diabetes caused it themselves or exacerbated the symptoms (if it was genetic) by their eating habits and lack of exercise. Why should I pay for those people to have treatment and drugs? Really, it should not be up to a minority of people to determine what treatment people can get.
    Not covering abortion in the Public Option is one thing; not allowing private insurers to cover abortion if they want to participate in the Public Option is quite another. It is nothing but sexist and anti-choice and religiously motivated. Why not disallow coverage for medications for HIV? As long as you don’t need it to live, what’s the big deal? Then maybe you can get homophobic Republicans to vote for it (it’s a gay disease still, right?).

  15. aleks
    Posted November 9, 2009 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    virtually all Republicans voted against the bill, which still tells me that adding an anti-abortion portion was not necessary.
    A bill can pass without Republican support because there aren’t very many Republicans left. Those that still exist represent very conservative districts, because in the last two elections almost all the moderate districts have elected Democrats. This is because of Bush, not because they’ve moved to the left. So now instead of needing the left wing of Republican Party (which right now pretty much means Cao) on board, Pelosi needed the right wing of the Democratic Caucus. If you think those conservative Democrats in Republican leaning districts, many of them vulnerable freshmen would have voted for HCR without the Stupak Amendment, then you should be furious at Stupak and Pelosi. But I think you’re hugely underestimating pro-life sentiment in these normally Republican districts.

  16. jeana
    Posted November 9, 2009 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    Then how come only 9% or so of people nationwide say being anti-choice is the most important political issue for them? I think it is a perception that abortion is the #1 issue to all conservatives regardless of anything else because a minority of people make so much noise about it.
    But I can bet that those who are violently opposed to health care reform are also violently opposed to any and all reproductive rights. So where do you draw the line? Should we have to give in and only have faith-based sex education because that’s what conservative districts want? Should we say no birth control can be covered in plans because that’s also what they want? It should have not been allowed to have been part of the bill because it really has nothing to do with health care reform. If they insisted on saying “no abortions even if you’re about to die”, that should have been good enough for the anti-choicers. So why not just do that? Why affect all women everywhere in the country?

  17. jeana
    Posted November 9, 2009 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    It could be much more than a mere $100,000. Low birthweight babies could even be in the millions. No or little prenatal care (which is the case for those who deny they’re pregnant or try to hide it from their parents) leads to very expensive births. It makes fiscal sense to provide abortions. I bet that’s the only reason insurance companies provide them. I would think they’d be irritated that they will no longer be able to provide abortions for members because now their pregnancy and perinatal costs will greatly increase. It would be funny if the health insurance lobby pressured for the removal of this amendment.

  18. ticker
    Posted November 9, 2009 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    Obviously. So if abortion affects more people, and is less expensive, why not cover it?

  19. aleks
    Posted November 9, 2009 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    Who told you that poor women have quality insurance that covers abortion now?

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