Huffpost Politics
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Kelley Bell-Wenzlaff Headshot

A Woman Scorned: The Betrayal and Backlash of the Stupak/Pitts Anti-Abortion Amendment

Posted: Updated:

A firestorm is coming. Can you feel it? The women of this country are fuming, like steam in a pressure cooker the timer is about to go off, and these women are going to explode.

After a long and difficult debate on health care, The Stupak/Pitts Amendment passed The House 240 to 194 with 64 Democrats breaking from the party platform to add an amendment to the bill further restricting legal abortion. The move was underhanded, disgusting and unforgivable to the women in the pro-choice movement because it took the all important health care bill we so desperately need and turned it into a political football. The trick used is called "a poison pill"; an attempt to add inflammatory last minute language to bring down a good bill.

Betrayal. Pure and simple. Sixty percent of the women in this country vote democratic, and do so because they believe in the party platform; a platform that includes comprehensive women's rights, not as a mere third rail, but as a major tenant of the overall concept of human rights. And these women are pissed.

Gloria Feldt of The Women's Media Center put it quite succinctly when she said, "I'm seeing the most intense wave of anger building among women voters of all ages since the Senate's 1991 trashing of Anita Hill culminated in the 1992 'Year of the Woman'."

She's right about that. The backlash is swelling. Women all over the country are enraged. Comments from around the internet include statements like:

"I say bite 'em in the ankles".

"I say you're aiming way too low."

"Pitchforks!"

"Let's make mayhem, against all the opponents of Women's rights. Throw them in one big lump. It's what MOVEMENTS do!"

"There's going to be a firestorm here," Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) told The Washington Post. "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."

Kelli Arthur Hykes of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio feels the problem stems back to the "Big Tent" strategy implemented in recent years. "If we had people in office who went through the vetting process so we knew who supports the party platform we would not be stuck with anti-choice leaders."

Political commentator and newly elected Pepper Pike City Councilwoman Jill Miller Zimon is very concerned about the ramifications of this legislation, citing how important this health care legislation will be for so many people. Yet in spite of that, as a pro-choice Democratic woman she stands firmly behind the 41 women in the House who have signed a statement vowing to vote down the bill if the Stupak/Pitts language is not removed.

"We DO need to pass the health care bill," Zimon said, "but healthcare for all of us, and that includes our senior citizens, men, and women, not just select constituencies."

The health care bill is so important, we can't let this amendment get in the way of its passage, but don't mistake that to mean its O.K. to ask the ladies to "take one for the team," not this time. The women have taken plenty of hits "for the team" and if you haven't noticed, the women ARE the team. Have you ever gone to a democratic activist meeting? Who shows up? Who runs the phone banks, types the letters, does the filings, buys the coffee and washes the dishes when the meeting is done? Women are often expected to do all the leg work for the Democratic Party; to host the fundraisers, print the flyers, type of the paperwork, and get out the vote, but are continually thrown under the bus when its time to legislate pro woman policy. Enough! Take one for the team? I don't think so. Either this language is removed from the Senate bill before Christmas or there won't be a team for 2010.

Rachael Maddow predicted a revolt, and she is right on target. Progressive groups are mobilizing with force around the Stupak/Pitts controversy and working hard to put pressure on the "big tent" DINO's who fail to uphold party principles. It is the first spark of a firestorm and a movement on the rise... a movement that will unite Democrats not just on the level of winning elections to expand the base, but to win with candidates who vote like true progressives. That's the Hope and Change people voted for and the spirit of "Yes We Can."