By James Tillman
WASHINGTON, DC, November 9, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Abortion supporters are furious over the House's passage of the health care reform bill HR 3962 with the pro-life Stupak-Pitts amendment, which would continue to ban the funding of most abortions by the government.
Planned Parenthood said that the bill with the pro-life amendment "would leave women worse off after health care reform than they are today" and promised further effort so that women "do not become second-class citizens in a newly reformed health care system in the United States."
The amendment passed late on Saturday, November 7th, with 176 Republicans and 64 Democrats supporting the amendment and 194 Democrats voting against it. The amendment prohibits the funding of abortion by the new federal government insurance program - the "public option" - and also prohibits the use of new federal subsidies to purchase an insurance program that covers abortion.
Such prohibitions, which align with long-standing federal policy against funding abortions, have made pro-abortionists livid.
Nancy Keenan, of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said that they would hold accountable those lawmakers who voted for the amendment, including 64 Democrats, as folding "to the most extreme fringe of the anti-choice movement."
She continued: "In short, the fight is not over. That's why we will continue to mobilize our activists and work with our allies in Congress to remove this dangerous provision from the health-care bill and stop additional attacks as the process moves to the Senate."
Keenan's language has been echoed by other pro-abortion activists; Frances Kissling averred that the answer to the Stupak-Pitts amendment was to "overturn Hyde now."
The famous Hyde amendment prohibits federal funding of abortion through its inclusion in the annual appropriations bill.
She continued to say that the worst disaster for the pro-abortion movement since 1973 was the enactment of "the Hyde Amendment and [the pro-abortion movement's] 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."
Such militant language was mirrored by legislators who saw the Stupak-Pitts amendment simply as a tactical retreat designed to get the bill through the House, and who suggested that the amendment would have a short lifespan. "I feel certain it will come out of the bill before it comes back from committee," pro-abortion California Democrat Lynn Woolsey told The Hill. "I will insist that it come out."
Despite such declarations of war, however, perhaps the most noticeable element of pro-abortion commentary was anger at the U.S. bishops for backing the amendment.
According to Jodi Jacobson of RH Reality Check, "one thing is clear: The US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) apparently is running the US government, aided by a cadre of 'faith-based advocacy groups,' the House Democratic leadership, the White House and members of the Senate."
"Do we live in a theocracy?" she asked.
She continued: "I want to know ... why are the Bishops running the country? And have you had enough yet of Democrats that you elect selling you down the river? Are you angry enough?
"What are we going to do about it?"
In a similar vein, Jon O'Brien of "Catholics for Choice" warned how medical care in the U.S. would turn into a nightmare if the bishops got their way. "Just imagine for a moment what healthcare will look like when the bishops are finished," he said. "There will be nothing that doesn't meet the myriad litmus tests prescribed by a small group of men who don't represent American Catholics, let alone the America populace."
However, despite the anger of pro-abortion groups at the passage of the pro-life amendment, many pro-life groups are suggesting that the bill is still far from being solidly pro-life.
"Unfortunately, H.R. 3962 is a seriously flawed piece of legislation," said Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. "The Speaker's bill still allows rationing of health care for seniors, raises health costs for families, mandates that families purchase under threat of fines and penalties, encourages counseling for assisted suicide in some states, does not offer broad conscience protections for health care workers and seeks to insert the federal government into all aspects of citizen's lives."
Pro-life leaders are warning that the battle over healthcare is still far from over and that ensuring that the Stupak-Pitts amendment stays in the bill is just one of the many upcoming key fights over the legislation.