The Answer to Stupak? Overturn Hyde Now

Sorting through feelings as well as strategies in the face
of the enormous defeat that the passage of a health care reform bill that so
severely and punishingly restricts access to abortion will take time and hard
political decisions. One wants to punish those who voted for the Stupak
amendment and especially Stupak as much as they have punished women. At some
point in time one has to put women first and above all else for no else will.

But the immediate take away is the cold hard fact that our
biggest and most costly defeat since 1973 was the enactment of the Hyde
Amendment and our lack of a total, 
uncompromising commitment to overturning it. If nothing else happens as
a result of this defeat, complete and total dedication to overturning Hyde must
be the centerpiece, indeed the single objective of our movement. It is not
clear if the effect of the Stupak Amendment will be that the door will close on
ever restoring federal funds for abortion, but every effort to make sure that
does not happen must be made. We must convince enough people that the only
immorality is using poor women as a way of expressing one’s moral outrage.
Either we all have the right to choose or none of us has it.

President Obama has always supported overturning Hyde and we
now need to insist that having achieved his political objective with strong
support from the women’s movement, he must take up the true moral cause –
giving women with no or low resources the same right of conscience as those
with sufficient money to pay for their own abortions have always had.

Joe Biden and any pro-choice Democrat who has not been for
over turning Hyde needs to change their mind – and we need to insist they do

I have great sympathy for the dilemma our friends on the
Hill faced and in many ways I don’t want to come down hard on them. I know they
are hurting and these votes will trouble them for years to come. The Catholic
in me says the next step is restitution- all is never lost. That restitution is
their unswerving commitment and tireless work to overturn the Hyde Amendment.  

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  • mark2

    I’ll be the first in line to overturn Hyde, but we need to be realistic.  The Democrats are far too willing to sell out women for a paper victory which won’t really change anything meaningful.  If they were moving towards singlepayer and then sold out abortion rights, perhaps we would need to take pause.  Let’s be honest.  This is not where we are.

  • douglasjohnson

    The Stupak-Pitts Amendment received the votes of 176 House Republicans (no Republican voted against it) and 64 out of 258 Democrats, which was fully one-fourth of the Democrats. We at National Right to Life applaud this emergence of "common ground" on abortion policy in the House of Representatives.


    We had more to say about the abortion-related provisions in the original bill here, and regarding the outcome of the House vote on the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, and events to come, here.


    Douglas Johnson

    Legislative Director

    National Right to Life Committee

    Washington, D.C.

    Legfederal // at // aol-dot-com

  • julie-watkins

    The Hyde amendment is sexist and classist and should be overturned because it is sexist and classist. I’m tired of women and poor people being treated as 2nd class — even if it is more convenient for people who are benefitted by a hierarchical society.

  • mechashiva

    The Stupac-Pitts Amendment is not common ground. It was an ultimatum, "Accept this or we will not vote to pass the bill." There is no "common ground" in a provision that prevents the most disenfranchised members of our population, low-income women, from accessing abortion care. There is no "common ground" in restricting these women from buying a private insurance plan that covers abortion.


    Common ground would involve pro-choice legislation. Correct me if I am wrong, but I see nothing of the pro-choice position in this healthcare bill.


    The Hyde Amendment on its own would have been common ground, but Stupac-Pitts is nothing short of pandering to the Republicans for the sake of passing the bill.

  • colleen


    But pandering to the misogyny of the religious right, republicans and the ‘pro-life’ democrats is what ‘common ground’ means. There hasn’t been one ‘common ground’ conversation in DC or on this blog where the pro-choice view was treated with respect. ‘Common ground’ means ‘centrists’ bargaining away the basic rights of women to our bodies and to our freedom of conscience while pretending that the religious right will stop with abortion rights or cares about feeding those children after they are born.

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • rachel-roth

    Check out the ongoing campaign to repeal the Hyde Amendment, spearheaded by the National Network of Abortion Funds. Lots of background on the issue can be found here at RH Reality Check, at NNAF, and over at the GuttmacherInstitute.

  • mechashiva

    Thanks for the links, Rachel. The first one mentions that Congress prevents the military from providing or covering abortion services, and I wanted to weigh in on this.


    When I worked in an abortion clinic in California, we saw several patients who were in the military, often stationed in the Pacific. They had to request leave to travel back to the US, and then they had to pay out-of-pocket for their procedures at a private clinic. They did not have the option of keeping their decision private, because they had to inform their chain of command their reason for seeking leave, and word gets around. 


    I’ve met several military men who claim women in the service will get pregnant on purpose so that they can first be transferred to the states and then get an abortion in an attempt to "get out of shitty commands." Preventing the military from providing abortion services only serves to fuel this sexist tripe, as any woman who needs an abortion is immediately under scrutiny for "not really being a soldier." It is assumed she did it on purpose so she can get leave or get transferred to a more desireable location.


    I’m sure some would argue that if the military did provide abortions, that there would be coersion of women soldiers to abort in the case of an unplanned pregnancy. While it could happen, it would be better if there were more options for women in the service to make these decisions more privately and with less burden to their units. Flying back to the US, scheduling and having a procedure, recuperating, and flying back deprives their command of personnel for longer than is necessary, and puts an undue financial burden on our military women.


    Our servicewomen deserve better from us.

  • siena

    How sad that women subvert and reject their God given roles as mothers to a new generation of human beings.
    Have we so bought into the hype that women no longer are nurturers and educators but have become instead selfish, sexualized weak women, ruled by ‘my rights to my body’ while ignoring an unborn baby’s right to their little body?

    Have you forgotten who you are as cherished children of God?

    How can you expect those of us who see the reality of evil to support your right to kill?
    Such incredible selfishness can only come from satan.

  • colleen


    Have you ever read a book, The Handmaid’s Tale? Because you remind me of a character in it named Serena Joy.

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • siena

    Colleen: Your parents gave you a lovely name.

    No, I haven’t read the book.

    Have you read the bible passage Luke 9:48?

    "Whoever receives this child in my name receives me…….For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest".

    God bless all mothers who give their child the greatest gift…!

  • emma

    siena, The Handmaid’s Tale is a much better read than the bible.

    Be aware, though, that Margaret Atwood didn’t intend it to be a ‘how to’ manual.

  • uhhuhh

    Now they have come for the women and progressive unity is suddenly important.

    (Actually, Emily’s List did worse than nothing when it supported the racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic campaign against progressive Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN). Maybe that money should have been spent on a primary challenger to Bart Stupak instead.)

  • liberaldem


    Do you recognize that women can have, and do want, other roles in life aside from, or in addition to that of becoming a mother? 


    I’m troubled by your description  of women becoming "selfish, sexualized weak women".  Sexuality is part of our identity as human beings and it can be a very positive, healthy part of our identity.  It is possible for two people in a committed relationship-marriage-to engage in sexual activity as part of their love for each other, without that activity resulting in pregnancy.