Dear Progressive Allies in Health Care Reform: Where Were You on the Stupak Amendment?

Amie Newman

Dear progressive allies, I know abortion has been made controversial and politics is a giant game. But we can win if we stick together. So where are you on the Stupak Amendment?

Update, 11/12/09: This morning, Thursday, November 12, one of our staff received an email from Moveon.org seeking to raise funds for Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy, representative from Ohio who voted against the Stupak Amendment.  The email clearly rallies the Moveon.org membership against the Stupak Amendment. We are waiting to see if Moveon.org is sending out a nationwide email on the Stupak Amendment but are appreciative of this effort. 

Dear progressive allies,

I know that abortion access is one of the most divisive issues of our time. I understand that politics is one giant game. But it’s a game that has true benefits when it’s played right – and when we stick together. 

Unfortunately, I’m not sure I have seen this kind of unity when it comes to the anti-choice Stupak Amendment. In my email inbox, I’m getting elation-infused emails from Moveon.org, my state Democratic party, Americans for Democratic Action, even SEIU. Organizations for which I have tremendous respect – truly. But even as your emails proclaim that "the fight is far from over", none of you mention the heinous hit women’s access to abortion care took when this House bill was passed.

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Not one of your emails even references the fight pro-choice legislators and women’s health advocates have ahead of us. Not one of your emails touches on the ways in which abortion access is critical to a broader progressive agenda. Women’s reproductive and sexual health care access is tied to women’s rights, of course, but also to environmental sustainability, maternal health, immigrants’ rights, LGBTI rights, newborn health, healthy economies, and more. How can it be that somehow abortion access has been largely ignored by other progressive organizations working for health care reform?

Women make up at least half of all of your constituencies. It would stand to follow, then, that the passage of this bill with the inclusion of the Stupak Amendment would be of tremendous interest, at the very least, to your supporters. Do most women know that Democrats sold them out for health care reform on Saturday? They woudn’t know it from your letter, Washington state Democrats, which came to me via email and asking for money, letting me know that Democrats made history (they sure did!):

Dear Amie,

Saturday evening, the House of Representatives made history when it passed a sweeping health care reform bill, but the battle for affordable health care is not over. 

The heatlh care battle will now move to the Senate. Desperate Republicans are planning a filibuster to destroy any meaningful legislation. Insurance companies are ramping up their campaign of arm-twisting and threats. Right-wing media advocates like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Bill O’Reilly are spreading the politics of fear and doubt in reaction to Saturday’s vote. 

Later in the letter you ask me for money to continue with your effort to fight Republicans. But what of the anti-choice Democrats who pushed for the Stupak Amendment in the first place? Why is there no mention of the Stupak Amendment nor an attempt to educate voters on how Democrats actually voted in regards to the amendment?

Dwight Pelz, the Washington state Democratic Party Chair, told me,

"I think we were all blind-sided by the Stupak Amendment. I do believe that Speaker Pelosi let the bill go out with the Stupak Amendment in it, knowing it could be addressed in the conference committee. It’s become one more hanging issue that has to be resolved – along with the public option, the threat of filibuster, etc."


This does little to placate me, however. The public option is a very different issue than the Stupak Amendment. The Stupak Amendment did not need to be a "hanging issue" at all – if Democrats had not caved to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops or kowtowed to their constituency by creating entirely new ways of enacting anti-choice policies that would roll back women’s rights by decades.

And Moveon.org? What happened?

I am still receiving emails from you asking me for money to help your efforts but, still, women’s access to critical reproductive health care in health care reform does not warrant a single mention.

Even as you admit, "The bill that passed in the House was far from perfect, and we’ll keep fighting together to fix it" you still do not find it important enough to rally your progressive base against the Stupak Amendment in the House or work to educate members to ensure something similar does not wind up in the Senate version. 

You tell me,

Dear MoveOn member,

We won a big victory on health care on Saturday when the House of Representatives passed a bill that includes a public health
insurance option.

But dozens of conservative Democrats sided with Big Insurance to vote against it.

We’ve got to show that voters will make them pay a political price for standing in the way of health care reform—and
send a message to any Democrats in the Senate who are considering doing the same.

So we’re rushing to launch a major new TV ad campaign in the home districts of the Democrats
who voted against the bill
—spending more than ever before on ads to hold Democrats accountable.

What will you do to make sure women’s access to legal abortion care doesn’t disappear? Will your campaign address this?

Moveon.org, I am not alone. There was even a twitter campaign that sprung from the frustration of similar-minded folks, spreading the word,

"MoveOn.org can go suck it. email asking for $ 2 fight Dems who voted against #HCR. no mention of #stupak."

The sentiment is, um, clear. It may be that the lack of mention is a strategic move, Moveon.org. Or it may be that you just don’t deem this issue important enough to mention to your members. But it is.

I will not donate money to you to create an ad campaign that does not address anti-choice Democrats’ plan to wipe out both private and public abortion coverage.

If you’d like an example of an organization whose actions you can emulate, why not check out the Human Rights Campaign? The Human Rights Campaign advocates for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. So lobbying against and publicly opposing an abortion access amendment is not what immediately comes to mind when you think of their legislative priorities. But, in fact, they do think it’s critical. Calling the Stupak Amendment "outrageous", HRC says, "Clearly, anti-choice lawmakers are not satisfied with a federal funding
ban and are using health care reform to carry out their agenda of
making abortion coverage even more difficult to obtain."

And in one line they do what many of our other progressive allies have yet to do, proclaim both their opposition to the amendment as well as their goal to remain unified with pro-choice advocates:

HRC opposes the Stupak-Pitts amendment and will work with our
pro-choice coalition allies to help see that it is removed or revised
as health care reform moves forward.

I hope that as we move forward with health care reform efforts, knowing that we are at a historic place, we can all remember that no one should be left behind. No one should feel sacrificed in this process. No one should come away from these congressional measures with less rights than we went in with. Will the bills be perfect? Of course not. I understand that. I also understand this is a tough battle, long in the making. But if you, our progressive allies, do not stick with us, who will? You understand, of course, that women are not a special interest group. That we are critical to winning and maintaining Democratic seats; not to mention ensuring a Democratic presidency. 

I am asking our progressive allies, as we continue fighting for true health care reform, to remember this: Women’s rights are not a bargaining chip and using legal access to
abortion as a pawn in health care reform is not something women will
stand for. But if you stand with us, we’ll all be stronger for it.  

Best,

Amie Newman

 

 

Roundups Politics

Campaign Week in Review: Clinton Criticizes Trump’s Child-Care Proposal in Economic Speech

Ally Boguhn

Hillary Clinton may be wooing Republicans alienated by Trump, but she's also laying out economic policies that could shore up her progressive base. Meanwhile, Trump's comments about "Second Amendment people" stopping Hillary Clinton judicial appointments were roundly condemned.

Hillary Clinton may be courting Republicans, but that didn’t stop her from embracing progressive economic policies and criticizing her opponent’s child-care plan this week, and Donald Trump suggested there could be a way for “Second Amendment people” to deal with his rival’s judicial appointments should she be elected.

Clinton Blasts Trump’s Child-Care Proposal, Embraces Progressive Policies in Economic Speech

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton took aim at Republican nominee Donald Trump’s recently announced proposal to make the average cost of child care fully deductible during her own economic address Thursday in Michigan.

“We know that women are now the sole or primary breadwinner in a growing number of families. We know more Americans are cobbling together part-time work, or striking out on their own. So we have to make it easier to be good workers, good parents, and good caregivers, all at the same time,” Clinton said before pivoting to address her opponent’s plan. “That’s why I’ve set out a bold vision to make quality, affordable child care available to all Americans and limit costs to 10 percent of family income.”

“Previously, [Trump] dismissed concerns about child care,” Clinton told the crowd. “He said it was, quote, ‘not an expensive thing’ because you just need some blocks and some swings.”

“He would give wealthy families 30 or 40 cents on the dollar for their nannies, and little or nothing for millions of hard-working families trying to afford child care so they can get to work and keep the job,” she continued.

Trump’s child-care proposal has been criticized by economic and family policy experts who say his proposed deductions for the “average” cost of child care would do little to help low- and middle-wage earners and would instead advantage the wealthy. Though the details of his plan are slim, the Republican nominee’s campaign has claimed it would also allow “parents to exclude child care expenses from half of their payroll taxes.” Experts, however, told CNN doing so would be difficult to administer.

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Clinton provided a different way to cut family child-care costs: “I think instead we should expand the Child Tax Credit to provide real relief to tens of millions of working families struggling with the cost of raising children,” Clinton said in Michigan on Thursday. “The same families [Donald Trump’s] plan ignores.”

Clinton also voiced her support for several progressive policy positions in her speech, despite a recent push to feature notable Republicans who now support her in her campaign.

“In her first major economic address since her campaign began actively courting the Republicans turned off by Donald Trump, Clinton made no major pivot to the ideological center,” noted NBC News in a Thursday report on the speech. “Instead, Clinton reiterated several of the policy positions she adopted during her primary fight against Bernie Sanders, even while making a direct appeal to Independent voters and Republicans.”

Those positions included raising the minimum wage, opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, advocating for equal pay and paid family leave, and supporting a public health insurance option.

“Today’s speech shows that getting some Republicans to say Donald Trump is unfit to be president is not mutually exclusive with Clinton running on bold progressives ideas like debt-free college, expanding Social Security benefits and Wall Street reform,” said Adam Green, the co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, in a statement to NBC.

Donald Trump: Could “Second Amendment People” Stop Clinton Supreme Court Picks?

Donald Trump suggested that those who support gun ownership rights may be able to stop Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton from appointing judges to the Supreme Court should she be elected.

“Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish the Second Amendment,” Trump told a crowd of supporters during a Tuesday rally in Wilmington, North Carolina. “By the way … if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although, the Second Amendment people—maybe there is. I don’t know.” 

Trump campaign spokesperson Jason Miller later criticized the “dishonest media” for reporting on Trump’s comments and glossed over any criticism of the candidate in a statement posted to the campaign’s website Tuesday. “It’s called the power of unification―Second Amendment people have amazing spirit and are tremendously unified, which gives them great political power,” said Miller. “And this year, they will be voting in record numbers, and it won’t be for Hillary Clinton, it will be for Donald Trump.”

“This is simple—what Trump is saying is dangerous,” said Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, in a statement responding to the Republican nominee’s suggestion. “A person seeking to be the President of the United States should not suggest violence in any way.”

Gun safety advocates and liberal groups swiftly denounced Trump’s comments as violent and inappropriate for a presidential candidate.

“This is just the latest example of Trump inciting violence at his rallies—and one that belies his fundamental misunderstanding of the Second Amendment, which should be an affront to the vast majority of responsible gun owners in America,” Erika Soto Lamb, chief communications officer of Everytown for Gun Safety, said in a Tuesday statement. “He’s unfit to be president.”

Michael Keegan, president of People for the American Way, also said in a Tuesday press release, “There has been no shortage of inexcusable rhetoric from Trump, but suggesting gun violence is truly abhorrent. There is no place in our public discourse for this kind of statement, especially from someone seeking the nation’s highest office.”

Trump’s comments engaged in something called “stochastic terrorism,” according to David Cohen, an associate professor at the Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law, in a Tuesday article for Rolling Stone.

“Stochastic terrorism, as described by a blogger who summarized the concept several years back, means using language and other forms of communication ‘to incite random actors to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable,’” said Cohen. “Stated differently: Trump puts out the dog whistle knowing that some dog will hear it, even though he doesn’t know which dog.”

“Those of us who work against anti-abortion violence unfortunately know all about this,” Cohen continued, pointing to an article from Valerie Tarico in which she describes a similar pattern of violent rhetoric leading up to the murders that took place at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood.

What Else We’re Reading

Though Trump has previously claimed he offered on-site child-care services for his employees, there is no record of such a program, the Associated Press reports.

History News Network attempted to track down how many historians support Trump. They only found five (besides Newt Gingrich).

In an article questioning whether Trump will energize the Latino voting bloc, Sergio Bustos and Nicholas Riccardi reported for the Associated Press: “Many Hispanic families have an immense personal stake in what happens on Election Day, but despite population numbers that should mean political power, Hispanics often can’t vote, aren’t registered to vote, or simply choose to sit out.”

A pair of physicians made the case for why Gov. Mike Pence “is radically anti-public health,” citing the Republican vice presidential candidate’s “policies on tobacco, women’s health and LGBTQ rights” in a blog for the Huffington Post.

Ivanka Trump has tried to act as a champion for woman-friendly workplace policies, but “the company that designs her clothing line, including the $157 sheath she wore during her [Republican National Convention] speech, does not offer workers a single day of paid maternity leave,” reported the Washington Post.

The chair of the American Nazi Party claimed a Trump presidency would be “a real opportunity” for white nationalists.

NPR analyzed how Clinton and Trump might take on the issue of campus sexual assault.

Rewire’s own editor in chief, Jodi Jacobson, explained in a Thursday commentary how Trump’s comments are just the latest example of Republicans’ use of violent rhetoric and intimidation in order to gain power.

News Health Systems

Illinois Bill: Catholic Hospitals Must Inform Patients Where They Can Obtain Denied Care

Nicole Knight

The legislation amends the state Health Care Right of Conscience Act to require religiously affiliated facilities to inform patients in writing about health-care providers "who they reasonably believe" offer procedures that the institutions will not perform.

Religiously affiliated hospitals in Illinois must advise patients where they can find treatments that the institutions won’t offer on religious grounds, under new legislation sitting on the governor’s desk.

The patient information measure, SB 1564, comes at a time when almost about 30 percent of hospital beds in the state—and one in six in the nation—are in Catholic institutions that bar certain reproductive health and end-of-life treatments, according to recent figures from the advocacy group MergerWatch.

The legislation amends the state Health Care Right of Conscience Act to require religiously affiliated facilities to inform patients in writing about health-care providers “who they reasonably believe” offer procedures that the institutions will not perform, or to refer or transfer patients to those alternate providers. Hospitals must do this in response to patient requests for such procedures. The legislation cleared the state house on a 61-54 vote and the senate on a 34-19 vote. Democrats control both chambers.

The office of Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) did not respond to request for comment on whether he would sign the bill.

Catholic facilities often follow U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops religious directives  that generally bar treatments such as sterilization, in vitro fertilization, and abortion care. The federal Church Amendment and some state laws protect these faith-based objections.

Even so, growing concerns over facilities that deny treatment that patients want—and that doctors advise—has recently prompted lawmakers in Illinois, Michigan, and Washington state to advance patient information measures.

A Michigan lawsuit now on appeal alleges a Catholic facility caused unnecessary trauma by denying a patient treatment. In 2010, then-18-weeks pregnant Tamesha Means arrived at a Catholic hospital, Mercy Health Partners in Muskegon, Michigan, bleeding and miscarrying. On two occasions, the hospital turned away Means, as Rewire reported. It wasn’t until Means started delivering on her third hospital visit that she received treatment.

The Illinois legislation represents a compromise among the Illinois Catholic Health Association, the Illinois State Medical Society, and the Illinois affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), representatives from the groups told Rewire.

Lorie Chaiten, director of the ACLU of Illinois’ Reproductive Rights Project, said in an online statement that the legislation “protects patients when health care providers exercise religious refusals.”

Research indicates that patients aren’t always aware that religiously affiliated facilities don’t provide a full spectrum of reproductive health services, according to a 2014 paper published in Contraception.

Patrick Cacchione, executive director of the Illinois Catholic Health Association, said the organization, which represents the state’s 43 Catholic hospitals, opposed an early version of the bill requiring religious health-care facilities to give patients a written list of known medical providers that perform the treatments that the religious institutions oppose.

Cacchione said such a direct referral would have made Catholic hospitals “complicit.”

“We will provide all the information you need, but we will not make a direct referral,” he told Rewire in a phone interview Monday. The new version of the legislation does not require hospitals to confirm that providers perform the treatments; the facilities must only have a “reasonable belief” that they do.

He said Illinois hospitals are already doing what the legislation now requires.

Approximately one in five doctors surveyed at religiously affiliated institutions “had experienced conflict with the institution over religiously based patient care policies,” according to the 2010 paper, “Religious Hospitals and Primary Care Physicians: Conflicts Over Policies for Patient Care,” published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

In an emailed statement, Dr. Thomas M. Anderson, a Chicago radiologist and president of the Illinois State Medical Society, told Rewire, “The Society strongly believes physicians should be able to exercise their right of conscience and changes made to SB 1564 protect that right.”

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