Diane DeGette stands up against Stupak Amendment to win Wings of Justice
Originally published on WingsofJustice.com on November 11, 2009
Progressives who have been fighting for health care reform have been asked, “At what price do you want it?” Why universal health care should come at some imaginary price — when single-payer is the most effective and most efficient method of health care delivery — is beyond belief. However, in the world of bizarre political compromises, this question is an unfortunate reality.
The weakening of the public option — triggers, opt-out — is some of that price. Waiting for certain benefits to kick in is a price. Having those trapped in an employer situation not have access to a public option is a price. And not having abortion, a legal procedure, covered under the public option — as a result of the Hyde Amendment is a price.
But the more than 40 House members led by Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) have stood up and said the Stupak Amendment is too high a price to pay for health care reform.
“This is offensive to women — the notion is an insult, it is unworkable and it is discriminatory. Why should a woman purchase separate insurance in advance because she might have an unplanned pregnancy or a pregnancy that goes terribly wrong — who anticipates that? Would we expect someone to purchase supplemental coverage because they might get cancer or get hit by a bus?” said Rep. DeGette.
These are some of the many people, in power and out, who have been fighting for health care reform. And they are willing to risk not having a health care reform bill if it contains the Stupak Amendment or some similar legislation.
Being so close to historic legislation (even if it somewhat watered down), the prospect of throwing it away over an amendment seems depressing. But health care means health, and women’s health counts, and abortion, as long as it is a legal procedure, counts as health.
Rep. DeGette: “Our message is clear: we will not support any final bill that restricts women’s access to reproductive health services beyond current law. Before any bill reaches the President’s desk, language that takes us back to the last century by undermining women’s rights must be eliminated.”
Given the treatment of women lately when it comes to health, whether it’s the ignorant stupidity of Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) comparing women to smokers or women being shouted down in the House, there is all the more reason to stand up for women’s reproductive health.
The naysayers who voted for the Stupak Amendment and yet against the health care reform bill — and some of them are Democrats — are concerned more about politics than women’s health. And some who consider themselves neutral are tempted to go along just to get a health care reform bill passed.
But not these House members. They are willing to put their names out there and say, “Enough is enough.” They are willing to sacrifice something they have worked tirelessly to accomplish. And they didn’t take much time to think about it. After all, no one last Friday was talking about such an amendment.
When faced with this Solomon-esque dilemma, they didn’t consult polls or hemmed or hawed. They decided that there was too high a price to pay for health care reform. Because of their courage, they now are a threat to bring down the Stupak Amendment.
After all, Rep. Stupak (D-MI) implied that conservative Democrats wouldn’t support the health care bill without this type of amendment. Given the numbers of Democrats who supported the Stupak Amendment (64) and not the overall bill (23 voted for the amendment but against the bill), their coalition isn’t that strong.
This is all the more reason why the courageous stand of those standing up against the Stupak Amendment needs to be appreciated. Too often, progressive causes have to be shuffled to the wayside for “political compromise.”
For their brave stand, risking what they and others have worked for to get some semblance of health care reform, these House members collectively win this week’s Wings of Justice award.