Sunday, November 15, 2009

Reid's Rubicon Moment

The Sun has yet another article today explaining Harry Reid's monumental task in securing 60 votes for the Senate's health care bill. He may be tempted to try getting there with a Senate version of the Stupak Amendment, but I really think he would be making a lethal mistake in doing so. And in fact, I'm thinking he probably already knows this as well.


Well for starters, it's just a non-starter here in civil libertarian Nevada.

But as [UNR Politics Professor Eric] Herzik notes, Nevada’s Republicans should be wary of making abortion rights a campaign issue lest they turn off voters who would prefer that government let women decide the issue for themselves.

“The easiest race Harry Reid ever had was when it was against a social conservative,” said Herzik, referring to Reid’s landslide 2004 campaign against Republican Richard Ziser. “When it became this values race, it became a breeze.”

Ziser has returned to front a November ballot initiative seeking to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.

If anything, Reid needs to be working to motivate his Democratic base in the run-up to the 2010 election — the liberal voters who have been deflated by his performance of late. Reid needs Nevada Democrats to come to the polls, not to sit out an election that will be among the most-watched Senate races in the country.

If anything, making an anti-choice move like including the Stupak Amendment in the Senate bill will only hurt Reid in dissuading the progressive Democratic base from supporting him just when he needs us the most. And furthermore, the independents and "swing voters" Reid wants aren't all that religious right either, so politically it would more likely hurt Reid to be anti-choice than help.

Oh, and take a look at the mess Nancy Pelosi now has on her hands for allowing the Stupak Amendment in the House bill. Congressional Pro-choice Caucus Chair Diana DeGette (D-Denver, CO) is furious, and she's not the only one ready to torpedo the current bill (with Stupak language) to protect women's reproductive rights.

Let me tell you this. After this vote happened on the House floor, I think that the.. this isn't a matter of how you tie the reimbursement to doctors, this is a matter of a fundamental right that women have, by the Constitution. And I think what happend when the Stupak Amendment passed, was the progressives and liberals in the caucus, said, "Enough!' And I collected those 41 signatures in one hour on the floor. People were mad.

So what I would say is I don't think people should mess with this one.

This isn't like how do you settle reimbursements. This is like do you let a woman with her own private money buy a policy that's going to give her full reproductive care.

So I guess I would say we're really furious here. I didn't sign any of these other letters, even though I supported the robust public option, and I would have voted for single payer Amendment, and all of that. That's not fundamental to me like this is.

I think that the leadership and that the White House knows we are serious. And the other thing is, we can work this out. That's the other thing I would say. This is not a hard thing to resolve.

If people think there is a more clear or strong language that can be put into the bill, to preserve the separation of the funds, we could do that. We're willing to compromise to say 'no federal funds shall be used for abortion.' We're not willing to take it any [further].

So there you have it. Stupak may have gained a handful of votes for the House bill that just passed, but he may have actually threatened final passage of the Conference bill by stripping away women's reproductive rights like this.

And really, isn't this just wrong? Isn't it wrong to stomp on women's civil rights like this and deny them the chance to make their own health care decisions? And yes, since Stupak would deny women a chance to buy insurance that covers abortions with their own money in the proposed exchange, this is a violation of women's rights.

So it's now up to Harry Reid to be a real advocate for Nevada's women, and really women across the country. And since he has nothing to lose and everything to gain by doing so, I'm hopeful he'll be up to the occasion. And of course, it never hurts for us to remind him to do the right thing.

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