Stupak Double-crosses Senate Dems on Health Care

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Stupak Double-crosses Senate Dems on Health Care

Wendy Norris

An email chain leaked to Politco reveals the depths to which anti-choice Rep. Bart Stupak will go to place unprecedented restrictions on abortion services in the proposed health care reform bill.

In a maneuver brazen even by highly partisan Capitol Hill standards, an aide to the Michigan Democrat directly coordinated with Republican Senate leadership, the U.S. Conference of Catholic bishops and other anti-choice groups to derail the Senate bill expected to go before a vote late tonight.

The flurry of emails obtained by Politico reveals Stupak is now working in common cause with conservatives lawmakers and special interest groups who are unilaterally opposed to health care reform in any capacity.

“Guys – when will we see your letters of opposition to the managers amendment?? We need them ASAP!” wrote Erika Smith, a Stupak aide, at 9:23 this morning, less than an hour after the amendment had become available.

The email’s recipients included key staffers for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, National Right to Life, the Family Research Council, as well as Autumn Fredericks Christensen, aide to a top pro-life Republican Joe Pitts, and Lanier Swann, a McConnell aide.

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A minute after Smith sent out her plea, Lanier reiterated it to the list.

“Nelson is telling people in the building he will vote yes. If there was any time to weigh in against this deal —- THIS IS IT,” Swann wrote at 9:24 a.m. </blockquote>

Previously, Stupak had expressed support for the House bill  if restrictions were adopted to prevent any insurance company in the exchange from providing coverage for abortion care if even one person covered by a policy was recieving a federal subside — a burden that far exceeds the already onerous Hyde Amendment which has guided federal health care funding for decades.

As Robin Marty noted in her story this morning outlining Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s manager’s amendment, compromise language authored by anti-choice Sen. Bob Casey (D-Penn.) was added to the bill late last night. The provision allows states to opt-out of abortion coverage in the proposed health care insurance exchanges and orders beefed up accounting restrictions to separate federal funds from private dollars — similar to those used in the controversial faith-based federal grant program to prevent taxpayer support of religious activities.

The manager’s amendment compromise was struck with Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) who has blocked the Senate vote with his own threat to join a GOP filibuster if abortion funding restrictions were not contained in the bill. Nelson’s amendment mimicking the Stupak amendment, which was supported by Casey, was tabled by pro-choice Democrats last week.

Pro-choice advocates have been working to prevent any abortion restrictions from entering into the Senate bill in order to improve chances of removing the Stupak language from the eventual conference committee report that will iron out differences between the two chambers’ bills.

News of Stupak enlisting the GOP and religious and conservative interest groups to sink legislation in the opposite chamber is sending reverberations throughout Washington as a new low in the already hyper-partisan battle for health care reform.

A Kaiser Family Foundation Dec. 18 tracking poll finds 54 percent of Americans say "is more important than ever to take on health care reform now." A Pew Research Study released Nov. 19 notes, those who oppose health care reform over the possibility of abortion funding <> constitute a measly three percent of the American electorate.