Health Care and Abortion Coverage
House Democrats secured the votes needed to pass the health care reform bill on Sunday, and voted 219-212 to pass the Senate health care bill and 220-211 on a package of changes to that bill (no Republicans supported the legislation). President Obama will sign the health care bill on Tuesday, in an effort to build momentum for the Senate to approve the package of changes from the House.
Washington’s congressional delegation voted along party lines on the health care bill.
Late Friday night, anti-choice hardliner Rep. Bart Stupak made one final threat to block the vote on health care without his ban on insurance coverage of abortion care. While he did not succeed in inserting his language into the bill, he did force a compromise in which President Obama issued an executive order reaffirming the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding for abortion care except under very limited circumstances. The text of the executive order is available here.
The Washington Post reports that NOW and NARAL Pro-Choice America are disappointed with the Stupak-Obama deal.
Stupak defended this negotiation on the House floor, during which time anti-choice Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Tex.) shouted “baby-killer” in a bizarre outburst.
The health care package that passed both chambers contains the Nelson “compromise,” which requires everyone in the new system to write two separate checks if the health plan they choose includes abortion coverage. This bureaucratic stigmatization could cause insurance carriers to stop covering abortion care. Here is the response from NARAL Pro-Choice Washington executive director Lauren Simonds.
House Democrats also defeated a last-minute attempt by Republicans to stop the bill by attaching Stupak’s ban on abortion coverage.
A piece on Salon comments that it is the Catholic nuns, and not the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops or their political allies, who have stood up for health care for all with their position in support of the health care reform legislation.
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd argues that the nuns’ position on health care gave political cover to anti-choice Democrats to support the bill.
Republicans are already vowing to repeal the bill.
Attorney General Rob McKenna has announced that Washington will join a group of states in filing a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the health care reform bill.
The Washington state legislature continues its special season; there is disagreement between the chambers over how to raise revenue. This weekend the House passed its revenue package, which does not include the sales tax increase preferred by the Senate.
Other Noteworthy News
An editorial in the LA Times praises the resolve and dedication of abortion providers in the wake of Dr. Tiller’s murder.