With just hours to go before the start on Saturday morning of historic floor debate over the health care bill, leading Democratic members of the Pro-Choice Caucus emerged from Ms. Pelosi’s office unable to contain their fury. Ms. Pelosi, unwilling to delay a vote on the larger bill, had decided that Democrats who oppose abortion simply had too many votes on their side; for the moment, at least, the liberals who favor abortion rights had lost.
In the end, Ms. Pelosi decided that abortion opponents would be allowed to offer an amendment to the health care bill that would impose tight restrictions on abortions that could be offered through a new government-run insurance plan and through private insurance that is bought using government subsidies that the legislation would provide to moderate-Americans to help them afford health coverage.With dozens of Democrats and most of the 177 Republicans expected to vote in favor of the amendment to restrict coverage for abortions, Democratic leadership aides said it was likely to be approved.
The amount of anger I'm feeling about this prevents me from articulating my position. So, I'll quote Ezra Klein:
Because of the limits placed on the exchanges, most of the participants will have some form of premium credit or affordable subsidy. That means most will be ineligible for abortion coverage. The idea that people are going to go out and purchase separate "abortion plans" is both cruel and laughable. If this amendment passes, it will mean that virtually all women with insurance through the exchange who find themselves in the unwanted and unexpected position of needing to terminate a pregnancy will not have coverage for the procedure. Abortion coverage will not be outlawed in this country. It will simply be tiered, reserved for those rich enough to afford insurance themselves or lucky enough to receive from their employers.
The amendment is expected to pass with relative ease. Republicans will join with anti-choice Democrats to push it over the finish line. Once the amendment passes, the bill is cleared for a vote, and all parties expect that vote to succeed. Today looks likely to end with a historic, and important, vote. A vote that is a first step towards helping more than 30 million people secure health-care coverage, and making sure hundreds of millions are better protected from the vagaries of the insurance industry. But Stupak's amendment is a bitter start. It is, however, not the end. Even if it muscles into the House bill, it will also have to pass in the Senate, and then survive conference, before it becomes law.
Here's a quick question: if all these anti-choicers are going to prevent women from affording abortions, will all birth control options be either free or extremely affordable? I'm betting on no. I'm just hoping that if this amendment passes now, a change will be made before the bill is signed into law. Ezra makes a good point- it's not over yet.