Tea Drinking Anti-Choice Zealots
Katha Pollitt draws attention to the startling fact that at least 53 of the new House members and five new Senators are hardcore anti-choice zealots and makes the important observation that all this blather about the GOP keeping the abortion issue roiling for cynical political purposes is just that: blather. The anti-choice zealots will be hard at work whittling away a woman's right to own her own body at the state level, while the GOP Congress will do its part to roll back whatever they can. And at some point, the movement is going to demand that their efforts to pack the court with wingnuts are rewarded with a reversal of Roe. They will get their case.
And contrary to popular myth the Tea Party is made up of hardcore social conservatives who as Ed Kilgore noted after the shock of the O'Donnell primary victory, are largely motivated by their opposition to abortion rights:
For all the endless and interminable talk about "constitutionalism" on the right, it's rarely acknowledged that lurking in the background is wrath about Roe v. Wade. The same is true with the rage about health care reform; if you read a lot of right-wing blogs, as I do, you'd note that fear about Obamacare producing a massive expansion of publicly-funded abortion was a major motivator of right-wing opposition. House Minority Leader John Boehner knew his constituency when he made this statement just prior to the House vote on health reform:
A 'yes' vote for this government takeover of health care is a 'yes' vote for sending hard-earned tax dollars to pay for abortions.
More generally, the anger associated with the entire Tea Party movement is, I suspect, traceable among many activists to endless frustration of its desire to end the "genocide" of legalized abortion, to which the GOP "establishment" has given little more than lip service.
In case you doubt Kilgore's analysis or Pollitt's contention that abortion politics are about to rise up again, here's the Arctic Tea Queen herself on the subject this week:
During a speech in Dallas on Wednesday night Sarah Palin attacked President Obama for being the “most pro-abortion president to occupy the White House” and warned that health care reform would lead to more abortions in America.
"It is even worse than what we had thought. The ramifications of this legislation are horrendous," Palin said at an event hosted by Heroic Media, a faith-based, non-profit group that is working to bring down the rate of abortions in the Dallas area.
The 2008 vice presidential nominee urged the newly elected Congress to repeal health care reform, which she called the “mother of all unfunded mandates.”
“The biggest advance of the abortion industry in America has been the passage of Obamacare,” Palin said.
Although President Obama signed an executive order prohibiting the use of federal funds for abortions, the former Alaska governor said it was nonbinding. Palin also noted that the administration later allowed federal funding for some “high risk” insurance pools in states that allow elective abortions.
She is, of course, lying through her teeth. In fact, the opposite is true because the administration tightened the rules for the sickest women far beyond even the Stupak compromise in the face of the forced pregnancy lobby's indecent mendacity. These cruel fetus worshipers actually want women who are battling terrible diseases to go through impossible hoops rather than have their sacred tax dollars touch dollars that paid for a necessary abortion. It's sick.
(Meanwhile, check out what your tax dollars are touching these days. h/t to bb)
Pollitt gives a list of the likely anti-choice efforts from the GOP House:
§ Reinstate the global gag rule, lifted by President Obama on his first day in office, which bars recipients of US foreign aid from so much as mentioning abortion in their work, and make it permanent.
§ Pass the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, a k a Stupak on Steroids. This bill would make the Hyde Amendment permanent and reinterpret it to prevent any government department from funding any program that touches on abortion in any way, however notional. For example, if your insurance plan covered abortion, you could not get an income tax deduction for your premiums or co-pays—nor could your employer take deductions for an employer-based plan that included abortion care. (This would mean that employers would choose plans without abortion coverage, in order to get the tax advantage.) The bill would also make permanent current bans like the one on abortion coverage in insurance for federal workers.
§ Pass the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act, which would ban federal funds for any organization that performs abortions or funds organizations that do so. The aim is to defund Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest network of clinics for family planning and women's health, and in many regions the only provider within reach. This is the brainchild of Representative Mike Pence, who clearly doesn't accept the conventional wisdom that taking away reproductive healthcare for women is unwise for a would-be presidential candidate.
§ Beef up so-called conscience protections for healthcare personnel and hospitals.
§ Ban Washington, DC, from using its own money to pay for abortions for poor women.
§ Revisit healthcare reform to tighten provisions barring coverage for abortion care.
§ Preserve the ban on abortions in military hospitals.
Note that the official theme here is not the banning of abortion but freeing the taxpayer from having to pay for it, however tenuous the connection.
One would like to believe that our nominally Democratic majority in the Senate will not advance any of this legislation and if they do our allegedly pro-choice president will veto it. But I fully expect that abortion will be on the able as a bargaining chip when the Democrats try to fashion compromises on economic matters --- women will be asked to give once again so that the Teabaggers can be appeased with something that isn't vitally important to the people. (Well, except the women, but they hardly qualify.)
The problem, of course, is that the anti-choice Tea Partiers will never be appeased, so nothing will be gained by it. But a lot could be lost Pollitt writes:
"This election was not about choice," Planned Parenthood head Cecile Richards told me by phone. "The bottom line was jobs and the economy. But if you look at close races where the prochoice candidate won, and where women knew the difference between the candidates on reproductive rights, they voted prochoice and arguably made the difference." As Richards points out, Michael Bennet, Richard Blumenthal and Patty Murray all won by double digits among women.
Richards thinks Democrats will realize they need prochoice women's support to win.