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RH Reality Check

The Answer to the Stupak? Overturn Hyde Now

Frances Kissling

Sorting through feelings as well as strategies in the face of the enormous defeat that the passage of a health care reform bill that so severely and punishingly restricts access to abortion will take time and hard political decisions. One wants to punish those who voted for the Stupak amendment and especially Stupak as much as they have punished women. At some point in time one has to put women first and above all else for no else will.


But the immediate take away is the cold hard fact that our biggest and most costly defeat since 1973 was the enactment of the Hyde Amendment and our lack of a total,  uncompromising commitment to overturning it. If nothing else happens as a result of this defeat, complete and total dedication to overturning Hyde must be the centerpiece, indeed the single objective of our movement. It is not clear if the effect of the Stupak Amendment will be that the door will close on ever restoring federal funds for abortion, but every effort to make sure that does not happen must be made. We must convince enough people that the only immorality is using poor women as a way of expressing one's moral outrage. Either we all have the right to choose or none of us has it.

President Obama has always supported overturning Hyde and we now need to insist that having achieved his political objective with strong support from the women's movement, he must take up the true moral cause - giving women with no or low resources the same right of conscience as those with sufficient money to pay for their own abortions have always had.

Joe Biden and any pro-choice Democrat who has not been for over turning Hyde needs to change their mind - and we need to insist they do so.

I have great sympathy for the dilemma our friends on the Hill faced and in many ways I don't want to come down hard on them. I know they are hurting and these votes will trouble them for years to come. The Catholic in me says the next step is restitution- all is never lost. That restitution is their unswerving commitment and tireless work to overturn the Hyde Amendment.  


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Frances Kissling is a regular contributor to RH Reality Check.

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