Obama Expresses Reservations About Stupak Amendment

Yesterday it appeared that Obama was willing to accept the Stupak amendment which would restrict funding of abortion by private insurance companies if this was the cost of passing health care reform. On an interview with ABC News he has expressed reservations about the restrictions:

President Obama suggested Monday that he was not comfortable with abortion restrictions inserted into the House version of major health care legislation, and he prodded Congress to revise them.

“There needs to be some more work before we get to the point where we’re not changing the status quo” on abortion, Mr. Obama said in an interview with ABC News. “And that’s the goal.”

On the one hand, Mr. Obama said, “we’re not looking to change what is the principle that has been in place for a very long time, which is federal dollars are not used to subsidize abortions.”

On the other hand, he said, he wanted to make sure “we’re not restricting women’s insurance choices,” because he had promised that “if you’re happy and satisfied with the insurance that you have, it’s not going to change.”

The irony of the situation is that conservatives are bringing about the problem they have been warning about. While the initial health care legislation does not intrude upon decisions made between a patient and their doctor, the Stupak amendment does restrict such choices with regards to abortion rights.

There is reason for hope that the restrictions of the Stupak amendment will not make it through the Senate. Barbara Boxer has stated that there are not enough votes to add these restrictions in the Senate as it would take sixty votes to change the current language related to abortion.

“If someone wants to offer this very radical amendment, which would really tear apart [a decades-long] compromise, then I think at that point they would need to have 60 votes to do it,” Boxer said. “And I believe in our Senate we can hold it.”

“It is a much more pro-choice Senate than it has been in a long time,” she added. “And it is much more pro-choice than the House.”

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  1. 1
    Eclectic Radical says:

    I’m skeptical of Boxer’s claim that this Senate is ‘much more pro-choice’ than the House. The Progressive Caucus may not be the lever that turns the House, because of Blue Dogs and Republicans, but because it is the strongest single voting bloc in the House it is the fulcrum on which House votes turn. Liberal Democrats in the Senate do not have quite the same power as their House counterparts. The mood of the Senate leadership regarding bipartisanship and consensus has tended to undermine the power liberals do have.
    I do think we’re seeing a bit of a liberal Rennaissance in the Senate because of the Baucus bill and the debate over a public option, but I’m not sure this translates into a more ‘Pro-Choice Senate.’ I think a lot of the folks looking to see a public option passed are also looking to do what they feel they need to do to get it done.
    I do think Senator Boxer is right that 60 votes aren’t there. At the same time, I’m not as convinced as she is that 60 votes will be necessary if Stupak-Pitts is still in the House bill during reconciliation. There are some GOP Senators from New England who might vote for a public option in return for something like Stupak-Pitts.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    She is referring to the need for 60 votes to change the Senate bill while it is in the Senate–not the number of votes needed after reconciliation.

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