Democrats Should Not Tolerate Restrictions on Basic Liberties As in Stupak Amendment

Nancy Pelosi clearly knows far more than I do about getting bills passed. It is certainly possible that she knows what she is doing in attaching the Stupak Amendment to health care reform. Maybe this was necessary for initial passage in the House and maybe she has reason to be certain that a final bill will be passed without such restrictions on abortion rights. We won’t know until we see how this all plays out but I consider to fear she made a huge mistake.

Talking Points Memo summarizes a study which shows why I doubt that Democrats should have voted for any bill containing  the Stupak Amendment as it risks making it impossible for all women to purchase insurance which includes coverage of abortion:

A new study by the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services adds some expert imprimatur to what many progressives have been saying all along: The Stupak amendment to the House health care bill–which will prevent millions of women from buying health insurance policies that cover abortion–is likely to have consequences that reach far beyond its supposedly intended scope.

The report concludes that “the treatment exclusions required under the Stupak/Pitts Amendment will have an industry-wide effect, eliminating coverage of medically indicated abortions over time for all women, not only those whose coverage is derived through a health insurance exchange.”

In other words, though the immediate impact of the Stupak amendment will be limited to the millions of women initially insured through a new insurance exchange, over time, as the exchanges grow, the insurance industry will scale down their abortion coverage options until they offer none at all.

“As a result, Stupak/Pitts can be expected to move the industry away from current norms of coverage for medically indicated abortions. In combination with the Hyde Amendment, Stupak/Pitts will impose a coverage exclusion for medically indicated abortions on such a widespread basis that the health benefit services industry can be expected to recalibrate product design downward across the board in order to accommodate the exclusion in selected markets.”

It is disappointing that the Democrats have so far voted for a bill which contains such an amendment. This is about the fundamental right of a woman to control her own body. Democrats should not be willing to compromise over such fundamentsl rights. Rather than compromising, they should have spoken out against this attempt by Republicans to control health care and interfear in the decisions made between a patient and her doctor.

The Republican Party in recent years has become the organ of an authoritarian movement. The Democrats need to present a clear alternative to their views, not compromise over basic rights. Offering a clear voice in support of individual liberty, on abortion rights as well as other issues where the Republicans desire increased government intervention in the lives of individuals (despite their hypocritical adoption of the language of liberty), might also give independents a reason to stick with the Democrats.  If the Democrats fail to offer a clear contrast between themselves and the Republicans we are likely to continue to see stories about the loss of independent support.

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