How Catholic Bishops Threw the Health Care Debate into Turmoil with Anti-Abortion Maneuver
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However, Donna Edwards, who also supported Obama's bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, found some comfort in the president's words and said she feels good about the state of the Democratic caucus.
"I was very heartened by the president's statement after [the health care bill] passed," she told AlterNet. "And although he is pleased that we are able to move the ball forward, move health care reform forward for the first time that we've been able to in decades, that his position is that he supports the status quo -- that is, that federal funds wouldn't be used for abortion. That is what the pro-choice groups signed off on -- that language."
The restrictions of the Stupak amendment go beyond the status quo, which is the decades-old Hyde amendment.
Fight Moves to the Senate
The president seemed to imply that the abortion language could get fixed as the Senate takes up the bill: "I think everybody understands that there's going to be work to be done on the Senate side," he told Tapper.
"I think there is a shot, a chance for the Senate to rectify this situation," Michelman said, "[but] you never know what obstacles along the legislative path you're going to run into. And you gamble when you do that; in this case, you're gambling with women's health, and we're gambling with women's rights."
On Tuesday, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., told Sam Stein and Ryan Grim of the Huffington Post that a Stupak-like amendment would never get through the Senate.
"If someone wants to offer this very radical amendment, which would really tear apart [a decades-long] compromise, then I think at that point they would need to have 60 votes to do it," Boxer said. "And I believe in our Senate we can hold it."
But before the day was out, Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., told TPM's Brian Beutler that he would filibuster a Senate bill that didn't contain language similar to that in the Stupak amendment -- meaning he would prevent the health care bill from seeing a final vote. (Rachel Maddow reported that, like Stupak and Pitts, Nelson is associated with The Family.)
DeLauro and Edwards agree that for a final bill to pass muster with the majority in the Democratic Caucus, the Stupak language will need to be ditched.
"You know, I don't like to make threats," Edwards said. However, she added, "I would not be able to support a final bill that has this onerous kind of provision in it and that says to women, we're going to reach into your wallet and into your handbag and tell you what you can do with your own money."
"Look," DeLauro said, "I've always approached these things in an affirmative, in a positive way. What we do is to try to achieve the same goals as we move forward ..." Those goals, she says, include peeling back the Stupak language to not exceed standard of current law prohibiting the public funding of abortion. "We move to achieve those goals in long run. And I'm gonna -- that is where I'm gonna spend my time and my energy over the next several weeks."
"This is a wake-up call," Michelman said of the Stupak amendment, "and Democrats have to look themselves square in the eye here and say, is our power and our majority more important than protecting and defending women's rights and protecting their health? And you can't trade off here. This is not acceptable."
Michelman did see one silver lining, though.