House Vote On Abortion Amendment Continues To Cause Democratic Divisions
The inclusion in the House health reform bill of an anti-abortion amendment sponsored by Michigan Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak is causing division and debate among Democrats. Politico reports: "House passage of a sweeping anti-abortion amendment has set off a wave of soul-searching and finger-pointing among abortion rights activists - many of whom thought they'd found a safe harbor when Democrats won the White House and big majorities in Congress last year."
As a result, some liberals are angry. "Howard Dean's brother Jim Dean - the chairman of the progressive, pro-health-care-reform Democracy for America - is shipping hundreds of wire hangers to 20 abortion-rights-supporting House Democrats who voted yes for the anti-abortion Stupak amendment. But many in the abortion rights community ... also recognize they were outmaneuvered by adversaries who understood the basic anti-abortion arithmetic of abortion votes in the House. ... In an attempt to push back, [Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.)] is mustering a group of about 40 progressives she said will vote against health care reform if the Stupak language isn't removed in a Senate-House conference. Senate Democrats, including Barbara Boxer of California, have vowed to keep Stupak-like language from passing in the upper chamber" (Thrush, 11/17).
CBS News: "The abortion issue has finally reared its head after years of taking a backseat to priorities like war and the economy, leaving both supporters and opponents of abortion rights feeling that the Democrats' middle-ground approach is falling short. ... And as the public reconsiders the issue, interest groups on both sides of the debate are demanding more from Democrats. ... President Obama did indeed say that 'this is a health care bill, not an abortion bill,' but that the Stupak amendment does not appear to maintain the status quo when it comes to abortion. Nevertheless, 64 Democrats in the House joined with Republicans to approve the measure. ... Both sides say the Stupak amendment has galvanized their supporters, and they are doing all they can to influence the fate of the amendment, which now rests in the Senate" (Condon, 11/18).
Meanwhile, Roll Call reports: "National Catholic leaders this week ratified the church's official position in the ongoing health care debate, reiterating their tough stance against abortion rights and on other hot-button issues as the legislation makes its way through the Senate. At the annual fall meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops ... church officials defended their positions and the pressure they have put on Capitol Hill leaders" (Murray, 11/18).