As you well know by now, on Sunday night, the House of Representatives made history, passing the Senate's health care reform bill by a vote of 219-212. The President signed that bill into law yesterday. Later Sunday night, the House also passed a budget reconciliation bill, making targeted changes to the just-passed Senate bill.
But, a funny thing happened on the way to the reconciliation bill. The minority party has the right to offer a Motion to Recommit — their last opportunity to amend the bill and send it back to committee in order to delay and often derail final passage. The Republicans offered the anti-choice Stupak Amendment as their motion to recommit. This was the moment we were worried about. You'll recall that on November 7, during consideration of the House health care reform bill, that same amendment passed overwhelming by a vote of 240-194.
. . . And, then (cue Twilight Zone theme song), Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) got up on the House floor and spoke against the language of his own amendment, saying:
The motion to recommit purports to be a right-to-life motion, in the spirit of the Stupak amendment. But as the author of the Stupak amendment, this motion is nothing more than an opportunity to continue to deny 32 million Americans health care. The motion is really a last-ditch effort of 98 years of denying Americans health care . . . This motion is really to politicize life, not prioritize life. We stand for the American people. We stand up for life. Vote "no" on this motion to recommit.
What's more, 232 members of the House voted against the Stupak language this time around! More members voted pro-choice on this motion than voted for the health care reform bill. And, that's thanks in large part to your hard work, sending letters and making calls to Congress, lobbying your representatives in district or in Washington, D.C., and drafting letters to the editor and op-eds! I believe that many members of Congress felt so much pressure after their last vote for the Stupak Amendment that they welcomed a second chance to vote against this draconian measure. Thank you!
The ACLU scored this vote, and you can see how your Member of Congress voted here and thank (or rebuke) them accordingly.
Make no mistake, while health care reform does much for women, including providing better access to family planning services, prenatal and maternity care, and life-saving screenings for cervical and breast cancer, the final bill falls far short of providing women the reproductive health care they need and deserve. We will keep working to amend health care reform's stigmatizing and burdensome "two check" requirement for individuals purchasing plans that cover abortion and to ensure that every woman retains access to truly comprehensive health care.