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Mole's Progressive Democrat

The Progressive Democrat Newsletter grew out of the frustration of the 2004 election. Originally intended for New York City progressives, its readership is now national. For anyone who wants to be alerted by email whenever this newsletter is updated (usually weekly), please send your email address and let me know what state you live in (so I can keep track of my readership).

Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

I am a research biologist in NYC. Married with two kids living in Brooklyn.

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  • Thursday, November 12, 2009

    Healthcare Champions vs. Anti-Choice Democrats

    The House Healthcare vote focuses attention on two groups of Democrats: those who, despite representing conservative districts, voted against the anti-choice Stupak amendment and for healthcare reform (the healthcare champions), and those who voted for the Stupak amendment, thus putting women's right to choose at risk.

    First I want to highlight the first bunch, 20 Democrats, both progressive and Blue Dog, who did the right thing by voting for a woman's right to choose and for healthcare reform despite being threatened with a right wing backlash in their district. There was an excellent Daily Kos article on this group, including a link to an ActBlue page where you can thank these Democrats by donating to their re-election campaign. From that article:

    ... who were the House Dems in R-leaning districts who voted for the House health care reform bill and against the pro-life Stupak-Pitts amendment?

    These courageous Democrats:

    AZ-01 Kirkpatrick, Ann R+6
    AZ-05 Mitchell, Harry R+5
    AZ-08 Giffords, Gabby R+4
    KS-03 Moore, Dennis R+3
    NY-19 Hall, John R+3
    FL-08 Grayson, Alan R+2
    MI-07 Schauer, Mark R+2
    NY-24 Arcuri, Mike R+2
    WI-08 Kagen, Steve R+2
    CA-11 McNerney, Jerry R+1
    IL-08 Bean, Melissa R+1
    IL-11 Halvorson, Debbie R+1
    IL-14 Foster, Bill R+1
    MN-01 Walz, Tim R+1
    NY-23 Owens, Bill R+1
    NH-01 Shea-Porter, Carol R+0
    NY-01 Bishop, Timothy R+0

    Some of them, to be sure, have frustrated us on more than one occasion. Still, when they do the right thing -- when they do the progressive thing -- we ought to encourage them, to show that when Democrats act courageously, progressives will have their backs and support them. (Who knows? It might encourage them to do this more often.)

    So please, visit my new WE'VE GOT YOUR BACK ActBlue page and spread some sugar around today -- $3 each? $5? $10, $20 or more? That's up to you.

    But if politicians in tough districts don’t get any support when they do the right thing on a big vote -- and there be no bigger than Saturday night's between now and November 2010 -- they will have no incentive to do it the next time.

    Show them, right now: WE'VE GOT YOUR BACK.

    Updated: I've added Dina Titus (NV-03, D+2), Mary Jo Kilroy (OH-15, D+1) and Kurt Schrader (OR-05, D+1) to the page. They're in incredibly vulnerable districts as well, and are additionally worthy of your support.

    It is SO important to make sure these folks get a real boost for what they did. So even if it is just a small amount, please give. In particular, Alan Grayson, Tim Bishop, John Hall and Jerry McNerney are good progressives in Republican-leaning districts and need our support. Carol Shea-Porter and Bill Foster are also good people who we want to keep in Congress even if they lean more conservative than I tend to.

    But now I want to turn to some disappointing Democrats...the ones who voted for the Stupak amendment. Although I will take an anti-choice Democrat over an anti-choice Republican any day, I have to say that the 64 Democrats who voted for the anti-choice Stupak-Pitts Amendment are a serious disappointment. Some are expected. Some I really hoped for better and I can safely say I am unlikely to support them in the future.

    Here is the statement from Planned Parenthood on the passage of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment:

    “Planned Parenthood condemns the adoption of the Stupak/Pitts amendment in HR 3962 this evening. This amendment is an unacceptable addition to the health care reform bill that, if enacted, would result in women losing health benefits they have today. Simply put, the Stupak/Pitts amendment would restrict women’s access to abortion coverage in the private health insurance market, undermining the ability of women to purchase private health plans that cover abortion, even if they pay for most of the premiums with their own money. This amendment reaches much further than the Hyde Amendment, which has prohibited public funding of abortion in most instances since 1977.

    “Planned Parenthood serves three million women every year through its more than 850 affiliate health centers across the country and has worked tirelessly on behalf of those patients for affordable, quality health care. On behalf of the millions of women Planned Parenthood health centers serve, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America has no choice but to oppose HR 3962. The bill includes the Stupak/Pitts amendment that would leave women worse off after health care reform than they are today, violating President Obama’s promise to the American people that no one would be forced to lose her or his present coverage under health reform.

    “The Stupak/Pitts amendment violates the spirit of health care reform, which is meant to guarantee quality, affordable health care coverage for all. In fact, this amendment would create a two-tiered system that would punish women, particularly those with low and middle incomes, the very people this bill is intended to assist. The majority of private health insurance plans currently offer abortion coverage, and the Stupak/Pitts amendment would result in the elimination of private abortion coverage in the ‘exchange,’ the new insurance market created under health care reform, as well as in the public option, if one is created.

    “The Stupak/Pitts amendment would purportedly allow women who want comprehensive reproductive health care coverage to purchase a separate, single-service rider to cover abortion. But such abortion riders do not exist because women do not plan to have unintended pregnancies or medically complicated pregnancies that require ending the pregnancy. These so-called ‘abortion riders,’ which would be the only insurance policy through which abortion care could be covered in the ‘exchange,’ are discriminatory and illogical. Proposing a separate ‘abortion rider’ or ‘single-service plan’ is tantamount to banning abortion coverage since no insurance company would offer such a policy.

    “It is extremely unfortunate that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and anti-choice opponents were able to hijack the health care reform bill in their dedicated attempt to ban all legal abortion In the United States. Most telling is the fact that the vast majority of members of the House who supported the Stupak/Pitts amendment in today’s vote do not support HR 3962, revealing their true motive, which is to kill the health care reform bill. These single-issue advocates simply used health care reform to advance their extreme, ideological agenda at the expense of tens of millions of women.

    “Planned Parenthood applauds the members of Congress who stood up for women’s health and voted to oppose the Stupak/Pitts amendment. We will work with those members to rectify this travesty.

    “As a health care provider, Planned Parenthood is committed to passing health care reform that will guarantee affordable, quality health care coverage for all, including access to comprehensive reproductive health care. In the coming weeks, Planned Parenthood will work with its allies in the Senate to ensure that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and those who oppose abortion do not once again hijack the legislative process in their ongoing campaign to make abortion illegal. Planned Parenthood will join forces with women and their families and health providers to ensure that health care reform does not take away benefits that most women with private health coverage have today. Together, women and their allies are going to make their voices heard, so that they do not become second-class citizens in a newly reformed health care system in the United States.”

    Here are the names of the 64 anti-choice Democrats who voted for the Stupak-Pitts amendment:

    AL-2 Bright, Bobby; AL- 5 Griffith, Parker; AL-7 Davis, Artur; AR-1 Berry, Robert; AR-2 Snyder, Victor; AR-4 AR-4 Ross, Mike; CA-18 Cardoza, Dennis; CA-20 Costa, Jim; CA-43 Baca, Joe; CO-3 Salazar, John.

    GA-2 Bishop, Sanford; GA-8 Marshall, James; GA-12 Barrow, John; KY-6 Chandler, Ben; IL-3 Lipinski, Daniel; IL-12 Costello, Jerry; IN-2 Donnelly, Joe; IN-8 Ellsworth, Brad; IN-9 Hill, Baron; LA-3 Melancon, Charles; ME-2 Michaud, Michael.

    MA-2 Neal, Richard; MA-9 Lynch, Stephen; MI-5 Kildee, Dale; MI-1 Stupak, Bart; MN-7 Peterson, Collin; MN-8 Oberstar, James; MS-1 Childers, Travis; MS-4 Taylor, Gene; MO-4 Skelton, Ike; NM-2 Teague, Harry

    NC-2 Etheridge, Bob; NC-7 McIntyre, Mike; NC-11 Shuler, Heath; ND Pomeroy, Earl; OH-1 Driehaus, Steve; OH-6 Wilson, Charles; OH-9 Kaptur, Marcy; OH-16 Boccieri, John; OH-17 Ryan, Timothy; OH-18 Space, Zachary.

    OK-2 Boren, Dan; PA-3 Dahlkemper, Kathleen; PA-4 Altmire, Jason; PA-10 Carney, Christopher; PA-11 Kanjorski, Paul; PA-12 Murtha, John; PA-14 Doyle, Michael; PA-17 Holden, Tim; RI-2 Langevin, James

    SC-5 Spratt, John; TN-4 Davis, Lincoln; TN-5 Cooper, Jim; TN-6 Gordon, Barton; TN-8 Tanner, John; TX-16 Reyes, Silvestre; TX-23 Rodriguez, Ciro; TX-27 Ortiz, Solomon; TX-28 Cuellar, Henry.

    UT-2 Matheson, Jim; VA-5 Perriello, Thomas; WV-1 Mollohan, Alan; WV-3 Rahall, Nick; WI-7 Obey, David.

    I am particularly disappointed in Zach Space and Tom Perriello, both of whom I supported early in their runs for Congress and was proud to have helped win. This may be the moment I find I can no longer support them. Perriello has done some good things since taking office, but this vote makes it hard for me to support him. I will say that he and Zach Space both voted for the healthcare bill in the end, which may be something of a saving grace.


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