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
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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.