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Friday, November 13, 2009

Impurity Police

I'm no fan of the infamous Stupak amendment, and I agree that it, not the original House bill alters the abortion status quo in troublesome ways. But I'd still sell out the relatively small number of affected poor women in a heartbeat if that's what it takes to get this health care bill through a final vote. So what if Stupak is puffing himself up by claiming to have swung 40 votes rather than (as Clyburn revealed) 10 or 11. That's still enough to wreak havoc when you won the first time 220-215. More importantly, the larger bill is too important to the health of too many people for liberals to sabotage themselves over cultural politics. So I'll stand with Dionne and Beinart against Pollitt and Atrios. Nothing wrong with getting angry and blowing off some steam now. Just don't take it to heart, eh?


At 7:39 AM, Blogger Number Three said...

That final vote almost certainly includes a lot of pocket votes. The Dem leadership got to 220 and then let folks (who felt like they needed to) vote no. Add to that the ultra-libs (like Kucinich) who voted no but would feel real pressure to vote yes were a conference report on the agenda. I wouldn't take the 220-215 margin as set in stone.

At 11:14 AM, Blogger fronesis said...

"the relatively small number of affected poor women"

This bit confuses me, Tmcd. What I have read about Stupak is not only that it will bar the expenditure of government funds for abortions, but also that it will make it illegal for all private insurers that PARTICIPATE in the government-created exchange" from covering abortion services. Thus, private insurers who participate (and they will have incentives to do so) would have to create separate plans that cover abortions. It's not obvious that they would make the effort to do so. Thus, it seems likely that the amendment could make abortions inaccessible for a far wider range of women than the ones you mentioned. It would also accelerate a process, under way for many decades now, of making access to abortions very limited in the US (there is already no way of practically exercising one's "right to an abortion" in rural America).

I'm not weighing in on whether or not one should be "for" or "against" the bill with or without the amendment. But it seems to me that your post minimizes the actual impact that the Stupak amendment would have on women's access to abortion.

At 7:19 PM, Blogger tenaciousmcd said...

My understanding of Stupak is that it bars women who obtain the gov't subsidies (hence, lower income), in purchasing plans off the exchange, to get abortion coverage. Given that the exchange itself will only involve a fraction of the insured (those w/o employer coverage, etc.), this means that the overall #s prevented by Stupak from getting abortion-including coverage is relatively limited. Plus, not all women need abortion coverage--many older women, and those with ideological objections will not need/want it anyway. Finally, those women who get subsidies and use the exchange are generally going to be people who, w/o this reform bill, wouldn't have been able to get coverage PERIOD. So even they will be better off, relatively speaking.

So, although I disagree with Stupak in principle, I'm not willing to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

At 7:23 PM, Blogger tenaciousmcd said...

Oh, yeah, I forgot: #3, how many "pocket votes" do you think they have, other than Dennis K? I'm not sure there are too many. After all, Jim Cooper was likely one, and they've already called his number to vote Yea.

At 8:52 PM, Blogger fronesis said...

" it bars women who obtain the gov't subsidies (hence, lower income), in purchasing plans off the exchange, to get abortion coverage"

I guess we've just read different accounts of the bill. The ones I've read say that it bars the insurance COMPANIES who participate in the exchange from offering abortion coverage in their insurance plans. The scenario, therefore, is not just the exclusion of those who get government insurance but the exclusion of perhaps very wealthy customers who've had coverage continuously but whose insurance company now starts to participate broadly in the exchange and therefore removes abortion coverage from their plan.

I may very genuinely be misinformed on this (I honestly don't know.) But the difference in facts is a huge one from my perspective. On your account, no one who previously had access to abortion would lose it. On my account, some, perhaps many, would.


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