Jane Hamsher, she of FireDogLake fame, is shaking her fist at the sky over Steve Hildebrand, Obama's former deputy campaign director, theoretically challenging Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD). Apparently, Hildebrand is waiting to see how Herseth Sandlin votes on health care reform. If she votes no, he might challenge her. If she votes yes -- and abandons her pro-choice values -- then she will feel the terrible fury of Jane Hamsher and not! get! another! dime!
It seems to me a lot of hand-wringing for naught. Herseth Sandlin didn't vote yes in November. So the will-she-or-won't-she seems moot, doesn't it? I doubt that she'll vote yes this weekend. Her vote had very little do with choice, I think, and much, much more to do with the fact that she's considering a gubernatorial run and may have a primary challenge from Chris Nelson anyway. So Jane's criticisms of Herseth Sandlin seem like a lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Hamsher then goes on to crack on Rep. Diane DeGette (D-CO), the co-chair the Pro-Choice Caucus (along with Rep. Louise McIntosh Slaughter (D-NY)) using some specious arguments. Sorry Jane, but I'm not going to sit idly by while you paint DeGette as some money grubbing apologist for throwing women under the bus.
Besides being co-chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus, Diana DeGette is also vice chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. So, y'know, way to go Jane. Let's try to run the pro-choice, progressive vice chair of a major authorizing committee out of her seat.
And what's with Jane's omission of Louise Slaughter? I mean, if DeGette is bad, so too must be Slaughter. Or maybe even worse since she's the chair of the Rules Committee and overseeing a big chunk of the reconciliation process.
The language in the Senate bill isn't new. Every year we see the Church and Coats and Weldon amendments passed as part of the Labor-H appropriations bill. Where was Jane's outrage then? Or aren't those riders as media friendly as this fight?
Jane notes the Senate bill:
Whaa? I am not a lawyer but here's the deal insofar as I understand it, having done women's health policy work for a good long while: In 1980, SCOTUS ruled in Harris v. McRae that the Hyde amendment was A-OK. Justice Stewart said there is no "[federal] constitutional entitlement to the financial resources to avail herself of the full range of protected choices." In sum: There is no right to funding for abortion services under the FEDERAL Constitution.
Hyde didn't violate Roe. It didn't violate the Constitution. It did/does violate some STATE constitutions, some of which guarantee abortion rights to a greater degree than the federal constitution. If you live in one the 17 states with funding, well, please remember to thank your legislators. Those of you in the other 33 states keep on fighting (and that includes SD, which is apparently operating in contravention of Hyde, by refusing to pay except in cases of life endangerment; Hyde requires coverage in cases of rape and incest too).
Does it make me happy that we're looking at a vote on the status quo? Of course not. But would it make me happy to keep the status quo while also failing to expand coverage for millions of women. Also no.
In Diana DeGette's district one in four are uninsured. I doubt very much that she relishes the idea of trading a vote on the status quo for the future ability to provide affordable health insurance coverage to her constituents. I suspect she's looking at graphs like this one from the Commonwealth Fund, as well as data from the UN and the Guttmacher Institute. The latter notes that half of all American pregnancies are unintended and that family planning from Medicaid and Title X prevent 1.94 million unintended pregnancies per year.
Forty-some-odd percent of poor women are uninsured. Women without access to family planning services -- because they aren't Medicaid eligible, because Title X is short about $500 million, accounting for inflation, because they don't have access to a Planned Parenthood -- get pregnant. They get pregnant when they would rather not. Some of the pregnancies are carried to term but many are terminated.
So when good, strong members of Congress like Diana DeGette look out over their districts and see uninsured women and review the data they must wonder what will benefit their constituents most. If the statistics are to be believed, then having access to a medical home and family planning services is key to ensuring women's reproductive autonomy by allowing them to choose when to try to conceive. Not to mention that it will reduce abortion rates. That's why I'm reluctantly supporting the Senate bill.
Should women have to trade their right to a safe and legal abortion for the right to a flu shot, contraceptives, and annual blood pressure screenings? No, they shouldn't. But what gives Jane Hamsher the right to make that choice for all women? Does she has some special knowledge that abortion rights are intrinsically more important than general access to health care?
Who appointed her my spokeswoman?