If Stupak wants to push his anti-choice agenda the sumbitch needs to introduce a bill….so the majority of the Democrats can laugh at him and bury the damn thing. From ThinkProgress, some truth about Stupak and his anti-choice agenda:
While much of the attention on the health care debate in recent days has focused on the Senate, the House will have to vote to pass a reform bill as well, and Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) is threatening to torpedo the whole effort if his unreasonable demands on abortion restrictions are not met. To reconcile the differences between the House and Senate bills, Democratic leaders will likely have the House pass the Senate bill, then use the budget reconciliation process to “fix” the Senate bill, before sending it President Obama later this month. But due to two resignations, a death, and a likely vote switch by the only Republican who voted for health care reform the first time around, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has lost at least four votes, bringing the whip count to 216 — a majority of 217 is needed. But Stupak — who led a charge last November to insert a draconian abortion amendment to the House bill — is threatening to sink the effort again. Stupak claims there are “at least 12” House members who voted for the first bill that will switch their votes if the final bill includes the Senate’s abortion language. Stupak, his pro-life allies, and a leading group of Catholic bishops who have been deeply involved in the health care fight, falsely claim that the Senate bill will allow the use of taxpayer dollars for abortion and are demanding that the final bill include Stupak’s provision. Republicans have made similar accusations, but since they are unwilling to even consider voting for health care reform, it is Stupak’s bloc that would be responsible for killing health care reform, should it die in the House. Stupak’s amendment failed in a Senate vote, but the upper house included its own strict prohibition on public funding for abortions. Abortion language cannot be altered through the budget reconciliation process, meaning the final bill will look more like the Senate’s. The Catholic bishops “signaled” yesterday that they are willing to negotiate, saying “that if agreement is reached with House leaders on anti-abortion language, the church would work to get the votes needed to protect the provisions in the Senate,” even if it would require 60 votes. “Whether it would be enough to get to 60 votes, I can’t predict. We would certainly try,” Richard Doerflinger, an associate director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told Politico. But Stupak is still not satisfied. “In the present form, the Senate health care bill is going nowhere in the House of Representatives,” Stupak threatened yesterday on the Fox Business Channel.
WHAT THE BILL SAYS: It is clear that the final health care bill will not use taxpayer dollars to fund abortions. Neither the House nor Senate bills included outright public funding for abortion, but Stupak and other pro-life Democrats feared that taxpayer money would indirectly fund abortions, especially through government subsidies for low-income people to buy health insurance. Stupak’s amendment would have prohibited insurance plans that accept subsidies in the new exchanges from providing abortion services, except under the most extreme circumstances, even if women used only private money to pay for their abortion coverage. The Senate bill includes a deal orchestrated by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-NE) that does allow private health plans in the exchanges to offer abortion coverage, but only if their customers write two checks each month — one for the share of their premium that’s allocated for abortion services and one for all other health care coverage. Both checks would come from the customers’ personal funds, not government coffers. The Nelson provision also included language that encourages states to pass their own version of the Stupak Amendment, prohibiting insurers from offering plans with abortion coverage through the new state exchanges. The White House’s plan for health reform maintains Nelson’s approach in its entirety and is consistent with existing abortion restrictions, creating “a firewall between publicly- and privately-funded premiums and only allow[ing] private money to cover abortion costs.”Now, sit down and shut the hell up dude.
MOVING THE GOAL POSTS: Stupak has consistently invented new demands when his old ones are met. Last year, Stupak first demanded that public funding for abortion be removed. It was. Then he demanded an up-or-down vote on his onerous amendment. It passed the House, but failed in the Senate. Still, Nelson’s provision was crafted with Stupak’s objections in mind, and it won the support of every pro-life Democrat in the Senate. Now, in order to keep up his crusade, ”Stupak has relied on a fundamentally dishonest interpretation of the Senate bill to argue that it would allow for public funding of abortion,” as the Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky noted. Stupak appeared on MSNBC yesterday to argue his case, claiming, “In the Senate bill, it says ‘you must offer insurance policies that will be paid for by the federal government that covers abortion.’” In an interview with ABC’s Good Morning America the next day, Stupak cited pages 2069-2078 of the Senate bill, claiming, “You will find in there that the federal government would directly subsidize abortions.” But those pages do the exact opposite, and clearly prohibit federal funding for abortions. In yesterday’s ABC interview, Stupak also objected to a provision that supposedly mandates that “every enrollee must pay one dollar per month into a fund to help fund abortions.” While it’s true that people who choose to purchase insurance with abortion coverage through the exchanges will pay the nominal fee, one can simply choose to purchase a plan that doesn’t cover abortion, and thus not pay the fee. Moreover, the $1 provision was included to allay the fears of pro-life lawmakers in order to make sure only private money is spent on abortion. The $1 comes from private premiums payments — not public dollars — and is a way of ensuring that carriers have sufficient funds to cover the services they offer. As Slate’s Timothy Noah observes, Stupak’s claims are “empirical, not ideological. And Stupak happens to be wrong.” There are a number of ways Stupak could try to get the results he wants in later legislation, and his stonewalling here shows that he cares more about his agenda than health care reform. But even if Democrats decide to change the Senate’s abortion language through a separate non-reconciliation measure, it’s still unclear that Stupak would vote for reform. On Monday, he told the Wall Street Journal that “abortion isn’t the only issue that will keep him from voting for the Senate bill if Speaker Nancy Pelosi brings it to the House floor.” “It’d be very hard to vote for this bill even if they fixed the abortion language,” he said. Asked whether there was any way he would vote for the current package, he had one word : “Nope.”
MOVING FORWARD: Americans are not interested in getting bogged down in an abortion debate on health care reform. A recent poll found that a large plurality — 47 percent — agreed that “[p]olitical differences on abortion should not prevent us from moving forward on an otherwise good health care reform plan.” Pelosi, Obama, and other leaders want to move forward as well. “Let me say this: This is not about abortion! This is a bill about providing quality, affordable health care for all Americans,” Pelosi said yesterday. “Let me say it clearly…there is no federal funding for abortion. That is the law of the land. It is not changed in this bill.” Indeed, independent observers agree. Timothy Jost, a law professor at Washington & Lee University, and an independent “leading expert on health policy and law” recently released the findings of a “a thorough examination” of the Senate abortion language. While he found “significant differences between the House and Senate” bills in general, “the provisions governing abortion (Sec. 1303 of the Senate bill, pp. 2069-2078) are not among them. Both bills prohibit federal funding of abortions.” In other words, the Senate language is as effective as the House language, which Stupak wrote and voted for. Indeed, even the Catholic Hospital Association endorsed the Senate abortion language. The association, which represents hundreds of Catholic hospitals across the country, said in a statement in late December that it was “encouraged” and “increasingly confident” that the abortion compromise in the Senate health care bill “can achieve the objective of no federal funding for abortion.” Despite his unreasonable stand, House Democrats are still trying to court Stupak. After meeting with Stupak yesterday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) told TPMDC that “[s]eparate pieces of legislation could be passed” outside the reconciliation process to appease Stupak. “That’s a possibility,” said Hoyer. “I talked to Mr. Stupak today, and I’m going to be talking to him next week and he indicated he wanted to have some discussions with people. And I will do that.”