If you only watched TV or surfed the net, you would think health reform hangs by a thread over abortion. It does not. The media would like to pump this up as THE issue holding back health reform. That's because it's controversial and the people who are the loudest voices are anti-choice, like Rep. Bart Stupak.
You may have heard Stupak tell television personalities that he has the votes to kill health reform unless the bill that is passed has the House language in it. So what can you make of all of this? He sounds so convincing and the people interviewing him never seem to have the facts to refute what he is asserting.
But here is what you need to know -- first of all, the House of Representatives passed a health reform bill in November of last year that had Bart Stupak's abortion language in it. He was not content to keep the status quo against FEDERAL funding of abortion. He wanted, at the request of the Catholic bishops and some evangelicals, to prohibit ANY woman from buying abortion coverage from a plan that received federal funding, even if it was with her own money.
The Senate passed a milder version of the abortion language which allowed plans to offer abortion coverage but required women to buy coverage for medical care and separate coverage for abortions (at not less than $1 per month -- why so little? Because it costs even less than $1 to cover abortions when you consider what it costs to cover a pregnancy). The Senate passed its health reform bill in late December with a super majority of 60 votes.
So now we have two bills. The only way to consolidate them now is to have the House pass the Senate bill (without any changes at all) and then have the House or the Senate do a "mini-fix" bill that only requires 51 votes in the Senate. The mini-fix can only deal with budgetary issues, and abortion coverage is not likely to fall into that category.
The House Democrats who voted "for" reform last November, because it had their restrictive abortion language in the bill, are now threatening to vote against the whole reform package over this issue. You can see who these people are by clicking on this URL. These are the people who are standing between you and health insurance reform -- between you and your ability to buy affordable coverage which will not deny you because of a pre-existing condition.
It doesn't matter if you are a Democrat, Republican, Independent, Libertarian or whatever -- you are now at the mercy of these folks who intend to hold you hostage to their narrow views. Talk about government interfering in your life!! And while their egos exceed their values by a huge degree, they may not have the votes to pull this off.
I do not believe that in the final analysis Stupak will the votes to destroy health reform over the abortion issue. At least I want to believe that. But the media likes to play it up because it attracts an audience. To underestimate the passion of pro-lifers over this issue is to take a very dangerous path. They are absolutely out to destroy the pro-choice movement. The only value of the media hype on this is to alert us all -- do not be fooled. Stupak is not as stupid as we thought. Get organized and make your voices heard!
Follow Linda Bergthold on Twitter: www.twitter.com/lab08