Democrats in Congress have just proudly signed a deal with the Catholic bishops which allows a bunch of old men who have spent the better part of the last century avoiding their own sexual issues to dictate access to abortion services in the House health care bill.
No tax dollars were going to go to pay for abortions, mind you, but now insurance companies that participate in the exchange can't even cover them, thanks to Democrat Bart Stupak. FDL's Jon Walker explains how it works:
If the insurance companies offering plans on the exchange are not allowed to turn down any customers, it means no basic insurance plan on the exchange could cover abortion. There would be no way to prevent that at least one of the plan’s customer would be be using affordability tax credits to help purchase the plan. So the effect is no plan sold on the exchange could offer abortion coverage as part of its basic package.
But this isn't news. On July 1, Stupak wrote a letter signed by 19 Democrats saying they would do just what they're doing right now -- holding the bill hostage. And what did NARAL and Planned Parenthood do? Well, they released a lot of statements echoing the President's contention that the bill contained no abortion funding. But that was never Stupak's objection.
The floor of the House is now filled with ostensibly pro-choice Democrats like Rosa DeLauro and Anna Eshoo who don't seem to have noticed there's a problem here (Eshoo was probably too busy selling breast cancer survivors out to PhRMA). Honorary veal pen President Jan Schakowsky says, and I kid you not, "this is a great day for women."
Really? Here's Ezra Klein in the Washington Post:
If this amendment passes, it will mean that virtually all women with insurance through the exchange who find themselves in the unwanted and unexpected position of needing to terminate a pregnancy will not have coverage for the procedure.
Yet these women use their gender to give glowing testament to just how great this bill is for women across America. And they'll pay no price.
Why? Because helping the Democrats stay in power by giving them the Official Good Gyno Seal of Approval is what NARAL and Planned Parenthood do -- even when those Democrats do things like voting for Samuel Alito and tell rape victims to take a cab to another hospital if they want to get Plan B contraception.
Could they whip the pro-choice women to block the rule if they want to? Of course they could. Yank their endorsements and they could cause havoc within the Democratic Party. But they won’t, because Nancy Keenan and Cecile Richards value their own personal position in the veal pen pecking order WAY too much to take that risk. For them, what's good for the Democratic Party is good for choice, even when the party abandons them.
One of the things that made a fight for a public option possible was because there were no “veal pen” validators occupying the health care space. Nobody knows who HCAN is. The White House tried to press the unions and other veal pen groups into service weakening the health care bill to get Republican support, but progressives standing there ready to shoot on sight made othersback away for fear of losing their own progressive credibility.
People think the “veal pen” phenomenon is insignificant, but it’s not. The abortion fight — like the environmental fight — is extremely difficult to wage online, because you can’t activate those who care about the issue if the “brand names,” the issue validators, are telling them everything is fine either by action or inaction. And that’s exactly what the Democrats — from the White House on down to Nancy Pelosi and the House leadership — want right now.
But let’s be clear about this. The only reason that we are in the position where the price of passing health care reform is allowing even liberal Marcy Kaptur to sneeringly dismiss choice activists as narrow class warriors who don’t care about working women is because Planned Parenthood and NARAL have allowed it to happen. They collect millions of dollars in revenue each year. They’ve exacted no price from the Marcy Kapturs of the world, who actually have to care what liberals think of them, and focused instead on anti-choice Republicans who are only empowered by their ire. They have no scalps. There is no price for crossing Planned Parenthood and NARAL. It isn’t a fight that the Democrats want to spend “political capital” on, and these groups insure that they don’t have to.
Forget about the fact that more Americans are now anti-choice than pro-choice for the first time since Gallup has been polling the issue. More and more Democrats in Congress each year are anti-choice. It’s acceptable now. These groups have the lobbyists, the money, the access, and their leadership uses it for their own personal advancement while the cause they purport to defend withers on the vine.
The national Planned Parenthood organization listed $126 million in assets in 2007. Cecile Richards made $385,163 (PDF). The state chapters whose employees put their lives on the line so women can have the right to choose deserve support and protection within the Democratic party that she is not providing.
NARAL paid Nancy Keenan $145,538 from the Foundation (PDF) in 2007, which listed total assets of $4,119,329.
If they really cared about going after Stupak or Kaptur as a lesson to the rest, they most certainly have the resources to do it. Stupak's donors include a lot of PACS that have a heavy investment in consumer branding that appeals to women, companies like Amazon and Ford and Herbalife and Siemens, Sprint and T-Mobile and UPS and Verizon who don't want to be known for financing Stupak's anti-abortion activism.
One can only imagine what would happen if pro-choice supporters started calling them. In short, Stupak and his fellow anti-abortion demagogues within the Democratic Party only get away with this because NARAL and Planned Parenthood let them.
Follow Jane Hamsher on Twitter: www.twitter.com/janehamsher