I'm still trying to get my mind around the idea that a little-known congressman named Bart Stupak hijacked the entire health care bill at the last second. While also managing to infuriate millions of American women like myself.
How did Stupak do it? And all with the apparent support of a Democratic-controlled Congress and a popular Democratic president who is supposedly pro-choice? If you have any insights on this I would certainly appreciate hearing them.
I hate to offend voters in Michigan, but Stupak reminds me of a character on "The Simpsons." You have to admit he does tend to get red in the face like Homer, as when he thundered there would be "hell to pay!" if his abortion amendment got stripped from the final bill. Really? Not to get too uppity here, but who does the Democratic congressman think he is? A Catholic bishop?
This would all be funny were it not so incredibly outrageous and serious. And the stakes so high for women. Under the Stupak amendment, anyone who uses a federal subsidy to buy insurance wouldn't be able to choose a plan with abortion coverage. The size of the subsidy wouldn't matter. Even if you only got $50, you still couldn't buy insurance that covers abortion.
It gets worse. If Stupak and the anti-choice lobbyists have their way, women wouldn't be able to get abortion coverage through the public option, either. Instead they'd be forced to purchase supplemental abortion insurance, all for a medical procedure they might never have. All for a medical procedure that is legal, safe and widely used.
Call me cynical, but it seems to me women are getting screwed.
What's next? An amendment to ban birth control pills as a lever to pass climate change?
I hope Obama wakes up and decides whether he is truly pro-choice or not. And that Nancy Pelosi stops justifying this assault on women's health as necessary to get the reform bill through the House. I'd also like the Democrats to stop saying it was a victory and we should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. This bill is not good. Not for women. Not for children. Not for families. There is nothing good about the insidious way Stupak and his allies manipulated a bill meant to help millions of sick, desperate and needy Americans get health insurance to restrict abortion. So let's not pretend we're all going to Disneyland.
At an event at Harvard's Institute of Politics last Friday night, Pelosi as much told David Gergen so:
"We do not consider getting a rider as an option for women. We might as well give out big 'A's' and put them on people. How do you get a rider for an unintended event with an unintended consequence? We consider that something that is really unfair to women."
To put it mildly this is change we don't need. Right now something like 80 percent of insurance companies cover abortion. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 35 percent of all American women of reproductive age will have had an abortion by the time they're 45. That's a lot of women, despite efforts by abortion opponents to intimidate them and their doctors.
We all know where this amendment is headed. To a time when abortion will be so inaccessible and expensive that only rich women will be able to obtain one. A time, for some of us anyway, not that long ago.
There will be hell to pay with the Stupak amendment, but it's not the one its author is shaking his fist about. It's the wrath of millions of American women standing up for their rights.
Are we angry yet?