You’ve probably heard the cries of outrage from Democrats – particularly women – arising out of the inclusion of abortion-funding restrictions in the health care reform bill voted out of the House on Saturday.
Planned Parenthood condemned the Stupak/Pitts amendment as “unacceptable.” NARAL has called it “unconscionable.”
What’s been unexpected is the public worrying from Republicans that they may have just blundered in a major fashion.
I was monitoring my Tweet Deck on Monday afternoon when a logic-defying message rolled in from Erick Erickson of RedState.com.
Translated out of abbreviated, 140-character form into English, the message went something like this: “I’m really tired of debating the Stupak Amendment. It is what it is. The larger point is that we fail if we make the health care debate about abortion.”
Erickson is building an Internet-based activist site for conservatives, based in Macon. So the Twitter was significant. I picked up the telephone – which, despite its age, is a much more thorough communication instrument than Twitter – and asked him to explain.
“We saw this on Saturday night with the pro-life movement,” Erickson began. “They were pounding their fist on the table, that this bill had no protection for abortion in it. So when the Democrats caved on that issue — all of a sudden, the pro-life movement was left with nothing.”
With Republican help, the Stupak amendment was added to the bill.
The proper thing to do was for House Republicans to vote present, as some of the more fervent anti-abortion groups had advised, Erickson said. The amendment would have failed, and the bill would have lost a few more House Democrats who feared the loss of cover. Possibly, the bill would have died, or the vote would have been halted.
The action now moves to the Senate, where some Democrats are also calling for abortion-funding restrictions in that chamber’s version.
“If they start saying we have to have abortion protections in this legislation, their presupposition is based on this is going to become law,” Erickson said. “Even if they put the Stupak language in the legislation, the insurance mandates that people have – they’re still going to be abortion coverage.”
Ever the cynic, Erickson said the anti-abortion provisions in the House and Senate versions would likely disappear in a conference committee, but would still have accomplished their purpose.
Conference committee compromises that are returned to the Senate aren’t subject to filibuster. And House Democrats who needed to vote on an anti-abortion provision will already have that for their campaign files — they won’t need to insist on two votes.
Things in the Senate may be slightly more complicated than what Erickson described. Olympia Snowe of Maine now says she won’t support a health care reform bill that includes restrictions on abortion-funding.
So, by upholding abortion rights, Snowe could be aiding Republicans out to sink the Democratic health care reform effort.
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