The World Didn't End With Stupak
This won't be popular with some of you, or many if any of my fellow progressive bloggers, but the "Stupak deal" today is a good thing for the Democratic Party. Bart Stupak and fellow anti-abortion Democrats wanted and obtained today from the White House a commitment in writing that nothing in the health care bill would circumvent or undo the Hyde Amendment prohibitions against federal funds being used for abortions. As objectionable as this may be to many progressives, it needs to be pointed out that the Hyde Amendment has been the law of the land since 1977, and it will be the law of the land tomorrow.
This debate was about universal coverage and making affordable health care more available, it wasn't about repealing or getting around the Hyde Amendment. And if progressives are mad today because an opportunity was missed to do so, then they are guilty of the same thing we bashed the right wing for over the last decade. If progressives want to have the abortion debate, then that debate should center on repealing the Hyde Amendment.
As a pro-choice Democrat, I personally disagree with Stupak's view on the matter of reproductive freedom. However, it should have been clear to anyone at the outset of this debate that the issue was health care reform, and not a back-door attempt to get around the Hyde Amendment. Stupak's work with the White House to obtain an Executive Order confirming the applicability of the Hyde Amendment and clarifying existing law in support of overall health care reform is perfectly understandable. His efforts and accomplishment show how a big-tent political party can accept a divergence of beliefs on basic moral questions while still being committed to overall societal improvements. He cut the deal partly because he realized he didn't control as many votes as he thought, but also because he wanted an opportunity to vote for health care reform. In the end, neither he nor his supporters were looking to expand abortion prohibitions.
I agree with those who argue that any accommodation of both pro-life and pro-choice views within the Democratic Party only makes the party stronger to the benefit of our country. Stupak and his fellow pro-life Democrats showed resolve and a willingness to work for any arrangement that was consistent with their moral convictions as well as those of their constituents, while supporting the overall goal of extending health care security to millions of Americans.
Bart Stupak and his bloc are about to demonstrate their commitment to health care reform, rather than hide behind abortion to oppose reform outright. If progressives want to be angry at any House Democrats, they should look beyond the Stupak faction and focus on those House Democrats who will still oppose reform, because those Democrats are simply whores in the pockets of the same industry that kills thousands of Americans every year.