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Feminist Peace Network

Dems Sell Women’s Rights Down River Of Health Care Denial

A few thoughts on last night’s health care reform vote and the Stupak Amendment. First of all, 21 out of the 64 Democrats who voted for Stupak then proceeded to vote against the health care reform bill. In other words, women’s reproductive rights were severely compromised to appease 41 members of Congress. The final vote on the health care bill was 220-215, so only a few of those votes were needed in the first place to secure the vote. For this, in the 11th hour, Nancy Pelosi made a deal with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Many reproductive justice advocates watched the final train wreck on C Span last night in stunned anger, trying to understand how this happened.  Jodi Jacobson, who has covered this issue very thoroughly on RH Reality Check wrote,

Why when millions of women need basic sexual and reproductive health care is it important for the USCCB to be "working out" any plan?  What does Henry Waxman, Nancy Pelosi or any other member of Congress owe the Catholic Bishops that they do not owe the majority of women in this country?  What does Obama owe the Bishops that he does not owe you and me, for example, most of those of us who gave money and time and our lives to his campaign?Do we live in a theocracy?

Honestly: I would like an answer. From the White House.  From the House Leadership.  And you should want one too.

One reaction that I do take issue with is Jane Hamsher's assertion that NARAL and Planned Parenthood shoulder part of the blame for what happened.  As much as I  generally respect Hamsher, her reasoning is baffling.

But let's be clear about this. The only reason that we are in the position where the price of passing health care reform is allowing even liberal Marcy Kaptur to sneeringly dismiss choice activists as narrow class warriors who don't care about working women is because Planned Parenthood and NARAL have allowed it to happen.  They collect millions of dollars in revenue each year. They've exacted no price from the Marcy Kapturs of the world, who actually have to care what liberals think of them, and focused instead on anti-choice Republicans who are only empowered by their ire.  They have no scalps. There is no price for bucking Planned Parenthood and NARAL.  It isn't a fight that the Democrats want to spend "political capital" on, and these groups insure that they don't have to.


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Forget about the fact that more Americans are now anti-choice than pro-choice for the first time since Gallup has been polling the issue.  More and more Democrats in Congress each year are anti-choice, despite the fact that the party is .  It's acceptable now.  These groups have the lobbyists, the money, the access, and their leadership uses it for their own personal advancement while the cause they purport to defend withers on the vine.

The national Planned Parenthood organization listed $126 million in assets in 2007.  Cecile Richards made $385,163 .  The state chapters whose employees put their lives on the line so women can have the right to choose deserve support and protection within the Democratic party that she is not providing.

NARAL paid Nancy Keenan $145,538 from the Foundation in 2007, which listed total assets of $4,119,329.  But the NARAL PAC reports $87,125 cash on hand as of September 30, 2009.

And that kind of money was a match for the Catholic Church, Big Pharma and the Insurance companies?  I don't think so.  No question there are things over the years both organizations could, in hindsight have done better.  But their accomplishments speak for themselves and victim blaming is just not acceptable here.

As @mikkipedia on Twitter said, "Had a nightmare that extremists took healthcare hostage and the Dems bargained away women's rights to get it back. Wait..."  Imagine if instead we had a dream where our elected officials  stood up against the few in defense of our human rights.  Imagine.

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Lucinda Marshall

Lucinda Marshall is and artist, activist and writer. She is the Founder and Director of the Feminist Peace Network and the author of Reclaiming Medusa.

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