Saturday, November 7, 2009

Dems Who Voted to Send Women Back to the Dark Days.

Those who voted for the Stupak amendment, via OpenLeft:

Tom Perriello. (Who I spent days knocking on doors for in Charlottesville, Virginia.)

And everyone else... (list in the extended entry)

AdamGreen :: Dems who voted for the Stupak amendment to restrict women's rights.

Bishop (GA)
Davis (AL)
Davis (TN)
Donnelly (IN)
Gordon (TN)
Neal (MA)
Ryan (OH)
Wilson (OH)

What is the Stupak amendment?

Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) is trying to radically change abortion law in this country today.

A central promise of health care reform is that if you like the health care coverage you have, you can keep it. Today in America, millions of women who buy health care on their own or who get it through the small business employer have abortion care coverage. Congressman Stupak's amendment would strip them of that coverage, breaking that central promise.

Stupak wants to outlaw abortion coverage in the new health insurance Exchange, where individuals and small businesses will purchase their coverage. Instead, women would only be able to purchase abortion coverage in a "abortion rider" plan - a single-service plan that covers abortion only. Such an "abortion rider" is discriminatory and illogical. Women do not plan to have unintended pregnancies (or pregnancies in which a complication will arise that will require ending the pregnancy). In fact, about half of all pregnancies are unintended. Abortion is simply not something that women plan to insure against.

Put simply, the Stupak amendment is a dramatic departure from current law which would restrict a women's right to choose. What's more, it would put an unprecedented restriction on people who pay for their own health insurance.

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Health Care Passes, Women's Rights Betrayed.

From Jodi Jacobson at RHRealityCheck:

Tonight, with the aide of some 60 Democrats, women's rights were effectively negated by the US Congress as the House passed the Stupak amendment to HR 3200, the Affordable Health Care Act of 2009.

More in-depth analysis of how we got here is forthcoming. But one thing is clear: The US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) apparently is running the US government, aided by a cadre of "faith-based advocacy groups," the House Democratic leadership, the White House and members of the Senate.

If you didn't know that before, be clear about it. Know it now.

And this is particularly true when it comes to women's rights. Any time there is an "important" vote that implicates women's rights and onto which a politician has hitched their political star--in this case President Obama and Speaker Nancy Pelosi among them--you can bet that the Bishops will be wielding huge influence to make sure no "gains" can be made unless women are screwed. You will hear a lot tomorrow and in the days ahead as to how "this important bill" could not be "held hostage" to any one issue, "it's not perfect," and how "compromises needed to be made," in order to "get things done."

Wait for it.

Yet the Stupak Amendment was not considered to be viable until this week when suddenly the Bishops ratcheted up the heat in Congress and through a "mass"-ive campaign in conservative parishes.

For some reason, when the Bishops pay a call, the entire House leadership shudders, and for some reason, the fact that the Bishops endorsed the bill suddenly became an important "stamp" on a bill that is about public health.

On Friday night, for example, according to several news reports, representatives of the USCCB met with House Democratic Leadership to demand that language be included or an amendment to the House health care reform bill be passed effectively banning private insurance companies from covering abortion care. And apparently as a result of these meetings, the House leadership effectively caved to these demands, jettisoned an alternative amendment offered by Congressman Brad Ellison, a pro-life Democrat from Illinois, and agreed to allow an "up or down" vote on the Stupak amendment.

The agenda of the USCCB has been carried out for some time by Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak for whom the amendment is named, joined by Pennsylvania Republican Joseph Pitts. Stupak had been threatening the health reform effort for a couple of months. His amendment bars coverage of abortion care in private plans that are part of an insurance exchange created by the federal government even where private premiums paid for abortion coverage and funds are kept separate.

In sum, this amendment robs women of the right to private insurance coverage of abortion care even with their own money paying the premiums.

Thank you Catholic Bishops.

That the USSCB has been wielding great influence in the debate was evident in at least one comment by a leading Democrat, Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA).

“I would like the [U.S. Conference of Catholic] Bishops, who as I understand it want a bill, to help us work out a plan where we don't have winners and losers,” Waxman said. “Because the losers will make us lose the bill and the winners won't have won anything.”

Why is it important for the USCCb to be "working out a plan?" What does Henry Waxman, Nancy Pelosi or any other member of Congress owe the Catholic Bishops that they do not owe the majority of women in this country? What does Obama owe the Bishops that he does not owe you and me, for example, most of those of us who gave money and time and our lives to his campaign?

Do we live in a theocracy?

And be assured this is not the first time women have been sold in the cause of the "greater good," whatever that is when the rights of half the population are trampled.

Last year, after literally 18 months of efforts by tens of advocacy groups to craft a reauthorization of the US Global AIDS Act that corrected failed programs by removing abstinence-only until marriage programs and ensuring that HIV positive women could get access to a full range of reproductive health care, the Bishops stepped in in the 11th hour and insisted on changes.

What were they? Banning US global funding from supporting contraceptive services for HIV-positive women in Africa who wanted to avoid another pregnancy; reinserting language on abstinence until marriage and requiring reports to Congress wherever at least 50 percent of funds were not spent on abstinence; and ensuring conscience langauge so sweeping that groups who did not "like" gays or sex workers would not be "forced" to serve them either with prevention or treatment.

And despite the opposition of public health groups and advocacy groups and despite the fact that these cahnges to the bill put women at even greater risk of HIV especially in Africa, Congressman Howard Berman caved to the Bishops. Why?

Not a single aspect of the demands by the Bishops were based on evidence. In fact, totally to the contrary: the evidence proved that everything they demanded would only increase new infections and suffering from HIV and AIDS. But once again, the ideology of the Catholic Church was written into law.

With your tax dollars.

The Bishops don't act alone. They are aided sometimes by HIV and AIDS groups that want their part of the agenda passed no matter what. They are aided by groups such as Catholics United which today issued a statement that said:

Catholics United today urged House lawmakers to vote yes for H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act. Passage of the bill will ensure that 96% of Americans have access to affordable health insurance and will constitute a major victory for Catholic values of life and human dignity. The vote comes at a time of historic support for health care reform among mainstream Catholics, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

This particualr set of "Catholic" values neither jibes with the real lives of the majority of Catholics, nor does it respect women in the least.

And I am left to wonder...why?

Who do they represent? Less than a quarter of the entire US population identifies as Catholic. Of those women who identify as Catholic, well over 80 percent use contraception, and Catholic women use abortion services at the same rate as the rest of the population. The majority of Catholics believe that the issue of birth control and abortion is a personal one, best left up to the woman, her partner, her doctor and, if she has one, her own faith.

I want to know...why are the Bishops running the country?

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Long Term Care and Health Care Reform.

New America has a story on the necessary but neglected attention paid by health care reform efforts to long term care for elders:

The disjointed system of care for elders fails to cover — not even through Medicare — long-term assistance for persistent conditions and frailty. Medicare only covers acute-care conditions, such as broken hips or strokes. But once a stroke victim becomes medically stabilized, for instance, Medicare does not pay for extensive rehabilitation or therapy needed for a person to fully recover the ability to move or communicate.

Unlike any other economically advanced country, continuing-care coverage available to older Americans and people with disabilities is available mainly through Medicaid, a poverty program forcing people to "spend down" until they are poor enough to qualify. Private long-term care insurance is generally unreliable and covers only 6 percent of older Americans.

This reporter followed up with Shalala, “What about even Sen. Kennedy’s CLASS Act?” (It stands for the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act.) Shalala repeated, sharply this time, "We're not there, yet." So don't bet on that provision getting to the president's desk — if any health care bill does.

Shalala did observe, though, that change might come eventually: "If we can get to chronic care management and some way of reimbursing people, we may be able to cobble together a serious long-term care plan.” She said some hospitals are starting to organize LTC programs by adding services, such as chronic care management, and working with hospices for those with terminal illness.

“But,” she stressed, “We're cobbling together, and it's not a seamless system."

Although Shalala's political instincts are instructive, the notion of covering one kind of care without the other makes little sense to many prominent experts. At the recent On Lok Annual Conference on eldercare, held in San Francisco, Joshua Wiener stated, "This kind of fragmentation in particular doesn't work well for people with chronic illnesses, chronic conditions, people with disabilities."

ht: Margaret Morganroth Gullette

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Who's Fighting End of Life Choice?

For a summary of the amendments submitted to health care bill 3962, see here. And don't miss the submission from Louisiana's Boustany to override state law to end Death with Dignity and prevent end of life counseling:

Boustany (LA)


Would define “suicide,” “assisted suicide,” “euthanasia,” and “mercy killing” to model the Assisted Suicide Funding Restriction Act of 1997 (Public Law 105-12), regardless of the definition of these terms under state law. This would prevent the end-of-life planning provisions in H.R. 3962 (sections 240 and 1233) from compelling federal taxpayers to facilitate assisted suicide.

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Stop Stupak's Ideological Imposition.

The fantastic Jodi Jacobson has an article up at RHRealityCheck on the hideous attempt by Representatives Stupak and Pitts to deny women the right to coverage under private insurance plans for abortion services, a legal service in this country. Jodi writes:

A vote originally set for tomorrow on the House health care bill (HR 3200) may be delayed until next week, even after months of drama to arrive at this point. And to get to yes, Democrats are set to make another compromise on abortion care.

If there is one thing this process has revealed it is that there is no real way to find common ground on women's sexual and reproductive health and rights with today's Republican party, or with the majority of the so-called Democrats for Life, who for all intents and purposes under the leadership of Michigan Congressman Bart Stupak are currently acting as the legislative arm of the United States Council of Catholic Bishops. These folks don't even support access to contraception for the purpose of reducing unintended pregnancies, never mind abortion even to save the life of the mother, so "compromise" on an issue of such profound implications for women is an idealized concept to say the least.

And in fact passage of the current bill remains in question in part because of demands by Stupak and anti-choice forces for language that would completely eliminate coverage of abortion care even in private insurance plans.

As noted here before, a Guttmacher Institute study has found that 87 percent of typical employer-based insurance policies cover abortion care. So under Stupak's proposed amendment to the bill, women would actuallylose coverage under health reform. It seems Minority Leader John Boehner had it partly right when he talked about health reform as a threat to freedom, but he was confused because it is the anti-choice amendments to this bill that threaten the freedom of women to choose private insurance plans that meet their needs.

Click here and tell your representative that health care reform should increase services and not be used to further "pro-life" groups' agenda of limiting access to women's services.

More here.

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