The Democratic leadership is being forced to bring the Stupak amendment to a vote in order to have a shot at passing health care reform. If the amendment passes–which is likely–it will mean that:
Private insurers will have to drop abortion coverage from plans that have it (which is most of them) in order to participate in the exchanges. The Public Option will not provide abortion coverage. People will get access to affordable health care, but they’ll have to pay out of pocket for an abortion. If people want to move to a plan on the exchange, they’ll lose the coverage that they currently have.
The “exchanges” discussed there are health insurance exchanges, which are marketplaces where people will be able to purchase insurance. Since insurance companies will have to compete against one another and the public option. the exchanges will provide better insurance plans at lower costs. They’re designed to help those who don’t have insurance or who have inadequate insurance but can’t afford better.
If the Stupak amendment passes, uninsured women who get health care through the public option will have to pay out-of-pocket to get an abortion. And even if a woman uses her own money to buy an insurance plan from a private company through the exchange, she won’t be able to get a plan that covers abortion.
I understand that abortion is quite controversial and it’s opposed by a great many people, but it is still a legal, legitimate medical procedure in the United States. So what if some people don’t want their tax dollars to funding abortions? I didn’t want my tax dollars to fund the Iraq war, but the Democratic leadership certainly didn’t bend over backwards to make sure that didn’t happen.
In fact, I bet you could find a wide variety of federal programs that are opposed by various sectors of the populace, so why is limiting abortion necessary to pass health care reform? I fully support having a big tent, but anti-choice Democrats should not be given the power to hold up legislation that will help tens of millions of Americans, especially if they’re holding it up in order to sell tens of millions of women down the river.
This is an absolute travesty, and it says something that the Democratic Party can’t get health care reform passed without having to stoop to this level. I’m still in favor of health care reform, I still hope it passes, but this is a big stain on what should have been a major progressive victory.
UPDATE: You can read more coverage of the Stupak amendment here.
UPDATE II: The Stupak amendment has passed, 240 to 194 to 1 (Rep. John Shadegg, R-AZ, voted Present)