Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Rep. George Miller Says Stupak Will Die in Final Bill - He'll Help

I’m getting a lot of constituent mail forwarded to me from family and friends in California. I thought I’d share this letter to a constituent from Rep. George Miller (D-CA), co-author of the House version of health care reform, and one of the most odious and dutiful representatives of the abortion industry in Congress.

The positive thing about this letter is that Rep. Miller is uncharacteristically polite about his enthusiasm for the legal killing of unborn children – the chief sacrament and concern of the Democratic Party’s California delegation. The politeness masks the fact that he’s basically telling the constituent that the Stupak Amendment is DOA if it returns to the House and he’ll help kill it.

To justify his position, Miller grossly misrepresents the effect of the Stupak Amendment, which only continues existing restrictions on federal funding of abortions. It does not restrict the ability of women to pay for coverage or pay outright for an abortion. The USCCB has a very useful description of what Stupak does and does not do here (pdf).

Give you one guess what church George Miller belongs to.

Here’s the letter:

Thank you for contacting me about health care reform and the Stupak-Pitts Amendment to prohibit abortion coverage in the Health Insurance Exchange.

As you know, reforming our health care system is literally vital – to rescue our ailing economy and for the well-being and security of every single American. Today, 47 million people are uninsured, and those with coverage struggle with rising medical costs. I am proud to be playing a leading role in Congress on legislation to guarantee, for the first time in our nation’s history, access to affordable health care for every American. As you know, by the narrowest margin, the House approved on November 7th the Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R 3962), a bill that I co-authored in my role as chairman of the Education and Labor Committee.

An important component of our health care reform plan is the creation of a Health Insurance Exchange and the inclusion of a “public option.” The Exchange will act as a marketplace for individuals to purchase insurance. The public health insurance option would be one voluntary option in the exchange that would compete alongside private plans such as Blue Cross, Health Net, and others, to provide insurance coverage. For those who cannot afford to purchase coverage on their own, the federal government will provide affordability credits on a sliding scale to help families purchase coverage in any one of the plans in the exchange.

The Stupak-Pitts Amendment would prohibit any public or private health insurance company in the Exchange from offering abortion coverage to anyone who has purchased health insurance with the help of the federally subsidized affordability credits. While our bill already contained clear language to prohibit federal funds from being used to cover abortion services, Mr. Stupak and Mr. Pitts believed that stronger language was needed. In doing so, they offered and won approval of language that would, in effect, prohibit anyone even using their own private, non-federal money from securing abortion coverage in the exchange.

I supported the right of Mr. Stupak and Mr. Pitts to offer their amendment on the House floor but I voted against it for several reasons. First of all, as I said, our reform legislation already contained very strong language to prevent federal dollars from being used for abortion coverage, language that was carefully drafted that I felt would help move the overall health reform legislation forward. Secondly, the Stupak-Pitts Amendment goes far beyond current law. While the Supreme Court continues to rule that abortion is a constitutionally protected right for women, a majority of Congress believes that no federal funds should be used in securing an abortion and federal law has prohibited the use of federal funds for abortion since the 1970s. The Stupak-Pitts Amendment, however, restricts access to abortion coverage for people using their own private money, not just federal funds, and that is far more than merely extending current law to our health reform bill.

I am very sensitive to the different views in our country on abortion and I appreciate how strongly people on both sides of this issue feel. Personally, I have always been a strong supporter of a woman’s right to access this legal and constitutionally protected medical procedure. I also strongly believe that we should do everything we can to reduce the rate of unwanted pregnancies. But restricting access to abortion is not a policy to reduce unwanted pregnancies; it will however endanger the lives of women who might be forced to seek unsafe abortion coverage.

The Stupak-Pitts Amendment will limit a woman’s access to private insurance coverage for abortion coverage beyond restrictions in current law and will disproportionally affect women based on their economic status. Experts agree that, if enacted in its current form, this amendment would severely reduce the number of insurance plans in the country that offer abortion coverage. While that might be the goal of opponents of abortion, I do not believe it is appropriate to use federal legislation to restrict a right that the Supreme Court says is constitutional and that Congress allows as long as it occurs with private funds.

While I did not support the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, it was necessary to allow the amendment to be considered on the House floor in order for the overall health care bill to move forward. That was clear. But I do not believe the final health care bill that emerges from Congress should include language as restrictive as the Stupak-Pitts Amendment and I will work to find language that will guarantee no federal funds can be used for abortion but that protects the safety and rights of women who might need access to such services.

Thank you for contacting me about this issue.

Sincerely,

GEORGE MILLER

Member Of Congress, 7th District



The "very strong language to prevent federal dollars from being used for abortion coverage" that Rep. Miller says was in the bill prior to the addition of the Stupak Amendment was the same language that was wholly acceptable to the Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Rights Action League. Again, it's nice to see California Dems being forced to give a flip about the concerns of their growing number of pro-life constituents, but behind the rhetoric, they're still working for the same industry.