Friday, November 6, 2009
Religion Dispatches: Politics, Not Religion, At Heart of Health Care Reform Wrangle on Abortion, by Sarah Posner:
As the House of Representatives health care reform bill edges closer to a vote, anti-choice Democrats continue their threats to hijack the bill over abortion funding. These members-and their supporters-are the very constituency Democrats have been urged to placate on abortion-related issues. That strategy, misguided to begin with, seems even more so as the "pro-life" Democrats are trying to bring down their own party's signature legislative initiative.
As part of Democrats' re-tooling in the post-"values voters" election of 2004, they tried to be more "friendly" to religion. A big part of that strategy included making anti-choice Democrats feel more "welcome" in the party by being less doctrinaire on choice, and acknowledging the claimed heartfelt religious belief at the core of these Democrats' position.
But now some of these Democrats, who claim to be pro-life, are playing politics with health care reform, aligning themselves more closely with the anti-choice hard right and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) than their own party. They insist that efforts to ensure that no public funds will be used to cover abortion services are insufficient. This game-playing is not about public funding of abortion, already outlawed in the Hyde Amendment (which bars federal funding from being used to pay for abortions for low-income women under Medicaid and other programs). Indeed, the House bill already incorporates Hyde through its own amendment authored by pro-choice California Democrat, Rep. Lois Capps.
Instead, these Democrats, led by Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan, are pushing for an amendment to restrict womens' access to abortion. And that's not theology, it's politics. . . .