Bart Stupak is Hijacking Health Care Reform (Again!)

News broke late Friday night that Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) was brokering a deal with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to ban all abortion coverage in the health-care reform bill.

You may be feeling deja vu. Backed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bart Stupak pulled the same trick—an 11th hour meeting with Pelosi—to get his ban into the first House bill.

The current health care bill already complies with the 1976 Hyde Amendment outlawing federal funding of abortion. Stupak wants to go a step further and ban participating insurers from ANY abortion coverage.

Here’s what we know:

  • At 7:30  p.m. last night, Firedoglake leaked the text of a new Stupak deal. It was signed by all anti-choice Democrats still wavering on health care.
  • Late that night, the pro-choice caucus walked out of Pelosi’s office looking grim.
  • Over the night, abortion-rights groups launched emergency campaigns to stop the Stupak amendment.
  • As of 9:55 a.m., Stupak canceled his intended 11 a.m. press conference to announce the deal, reports Firedoglake.
  • At 10:37 a.m.,  Stupak tells The National Review that the deal’s off—he’s “finished with Pelosi.”
  • Entering the House chambers, Pelosi says there will be no separate vote: “Not on abortion, not on public option, not on single payer, not on anything.”
  • Still short on votes from anti-choice Democrats, Democratic officials say they will consider an executive order from President Obama banning federal abortion funding.

Clearly, the fate of the bill is still up in the air.

Here’s what we can do (from the Feminist Majority):

Let Congress and the White House hear loud and clear right now this historic weekend – NO DEALS with Stupak or the Catholic Bishops. Our pro-choice House Leaders are standing strong. Keep them strong.

Call President Barack Obama at 202-456-1111, the comments line, or 202-456-1414, the switchboard.

Call your Representative AND Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer at the Capitol switch board, 202-225-3121 or 202-224-3121. And send an email.

Call your Representative and House leadership NOW. Women are watching and will NOT go backwards.

 The vote is very close. Every vote counts. Millions of women’s lives are on the line. Pass health care. No last minute deals. Stop Stupak!

Learn more about the anti-abortion movement via Ms. coverage.


Jessica Stites is the former associate editor at Ms. magazine. Today she's the editorial director of In These Times, where she runs the Leonard C. Goodman Institute for Investigative Reporting and edits stories on labor, neoliberalism, Wall Street, immigration, mass incarceration and racial justice, among other topics.