The GOP Unleashes a Horrifying Attack on Women
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The assault on women’s rights has gotten so widespread that many on the left suspect it’s all being done to kick up a duststorm obscuring the passage of H.R. 3 itself. This is, after all, a bill ostensibly written to “codify Hyde” into federal law--but that would really take Hyde much further by preventing most women from accessing even private insurance that covered abortions. How? By denying government subsidies to any insurance companies that offered abortion coverage. So by logical extension, these insurance companies would choose to drop coverage for abortions rather than lose their federal funding. As TPM's Brian Beutler reports:
Ultimately, the impact of tax like the one in the Republican legislation would likely be to phase out abortion coverage in the private insurance market. This would upend the long-standing bipartisan consensus, which does not enshrine the idea that the government should exert pressure on private entities to deny medical services they don't like. And -- speaking of bipartisan consensus -- it would run directly counter to the politically expedient conclusion by both parties that people should be able to keep the health care they already have.
Blogger Digby’s concern is that the “rape” and “death” provisions in these bills are so appalling Democrats will expend their political capital fighting them back and then repeat the “no federal funding” canard as a compromise, thereby allowing these bills to pass and end insurance for abortions: “I think there's a fairly good chance that the House will pass a bill that quite a few Democratic Senators will jump to vote for since all the 'bad things' have been taken out,“ she writes.
Mike Stark has similar fears, writing in a post called " H.R.3: The End of Abortion in the US?" that despite efforts by Democrats, "nobody is saying with any degree of certitude that HR3 will die in the Senate."
Democrats Fight Back, But The Buck May Not Stop With Them
But have all these assaults gone too far for good PR?
Many of us have been wondering why the Democrats aren’t using this opportunity to paint their opponents as callous men using their government power to intrude on women’s lives. While Americans may not exactly be militant in their support of abortion rights, they don’t like cruelty. Remember when John McCain put women’s health in scare quotes? It was a losing moment for his campaign's image.
Fortunately, a group of legislators launched a major counter-offensive to use the Republicans' own tactics against them this week. TPM reported Tuesday morning that “returning House Democrats and several of their Senate colleagues will roll out a multi-tiered attack on the GOP's abortion plans, simultaneously painting the bills as extreme, hypocritical and off the all-important economic message.”
Their bet is that independent voters won’t be pleased to see new legislators pushing abortion bill after abortion bill forward while unemployment hovers near 10 percent.
On Tuesday, Mike Stark reported on a press conference of progressive House members including "Jerry Nadler, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, John Conyers and others." Similarly, progressive Senate Democrats like Barbara Boxer, Al Franken, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Richard Blumenthal ran their own press conference and spoke out with the appropriate vigor. A video of Gillibrand’s statement is embedded at the end of the story. She came out swinging:
“There is no doubt that these bills show a heinous disregard for the health and well being of women in America. It is a tax on all women who want access to a full range of health care. It undermines a woman’s ability to make her own decisions,” she said, standing before her fellow senators. She called the action on the other side of the aisle “an egregious example of not only overstepping, but a misjudgment of what the American people want. If the Republican party doesn’t believe that 51 percent of Americans deserve equal rights in this country, they will have a fight.”