Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin holds down a tough seat for pro-choice Democrats. She's in a South Dakota district with a 9 point GOP advantage, and that's a tough thing to do for a pro-choice woman.
But the Democratic establishment is now out to torpedo any woman who sticks up for choice. Steve Hildebrand -- Obama's Deputy Campaign Manager, who called up rich donors and told them to cut off 527s during the campaign -- is threatening to primary Herseth-Sandlin if she defends a woman's right to choose from Ben Nelson's assault in the Senate:
Hildebrand, deputy national campaign manager for Obama's presidential campaign, told CNN in an exclusive interview that he has been frustrated with Herseth Sandlin's voting record for some time, especially her decision to oppose the House health care reform bill in November. The House is expected to vote again on the issue later this week and a Herseth Sandlin spokesperson has said she plans to vote no again.
"I want to see how she votes on health care," Hildebrand said. "If the vote is very, very close and we lose it or come close to losing it, I will take a seriously look at challenging her."
"She is on the wrong side of history," he added.
Let's just be very clear about what's happening here. There were forty-one members of Congress who signed Diana DeGette's letter saying "We will not vote for a conference report that contains language that restricts women's right to choose any further than current law."
And now, if any of these women wants to keep that pledge to defend choice, Obama's deputy campaign manager -- the guy who controls the cash -- is threatening to run them out of office for doing so.
You're not allowed to stand up for choice in the Democratic party any more.For years we've been told that we have to allow anti-choice Blue Dogs into the party, because that's how we get our fabulous Democratic majority that will protect choice. And we have to let them be corporate whores, because otherwise the Republicans are in charge, and you know how they feel about abortion. But as we stand here on the precipice of watching the Democrats deal the biggest blow to abortion rights since the passage of the Hyde amendment, let's just remember what the language in the Senate bill actually does:
- Allows states to opt out of allowing plans to cover abortion in the insurance exchanges, a clear violation of Roe v. Wade. Since some state medicaid programs cover abortion as long as it is paid for with state money, the Hyde amendment (current law) obviously does allow insurance to cover abortion as long as it is paid through a separate non-federal funds.
- Prohibits insurance companies by law from taking into account cost savings when estimating the costs of abortion care, which raises premiums, thus limiting access
- It includes "conscience clause" language that protects both individuals and entities that refuse to provide, pay for, provide coverage for, or refer for abortion.
"The good news is the Senate bill will allow people to purchase insurance policies with their own money that will cover full reproductive rights," said Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette, a lead negotiator for abortion-rights backers in the House. "That's current law. It also honors our compromise that we made in the House that we're not going to have federal funds to pay for abortion. So it honors that compromise."
Bullshit. It allows states to opt out.
So far DeGette has refused to release the names of the 41 members of Congress who have signed her letter. That's bullshit, too. She need to release those names, or she shoudn't have one more dime of pro-choice money. Ever.
I was at a big event with pro-choice donors in New York last week. Many pro-choice representatives -- Betsy Markey, Ann Kirkpatrick, Gabby Giffords, Carolyn Maloney -- were on hand to shake them down for cash for supporting choice.
If these members are abandoning choice now, when it counts, they should never get another dime.
We want to run online ads in Diana Degette's district telling her to release the letter. And to stand up for what she says she believes in:
We're also running robocalls to likely 2010 pro-choice voters in her district, letting them know that DeGette won't take a stand. Because all of the signatories are taking their lead from her.
If Diana DeGette didn't want to lead on choice, she shouldn't have stepped up. To be an apologist now for the administration by papering over what they're trying to do is just wrong.
If Obama wants to run a campaign within the Democratic party against a woman's right to choose, let's do it in public. Let's know where everyone stands.
Contact Colorado media and tell them to ask DeGette to release the letter.
Sign the petition, and donate to run online ads in DeGette's district -- stand up for a woman's right to choose as part of the Democratic party platform. If this bill goes through without a fight from the pro-choice community, that's it. Turn out the lights. It's all over.
Follow Jane Hamsher on Twitter: www.twitter.com/janehamsher