Archive for the ‘Abortion’ Category



Carly: Pass Reforms, Dump ‘Bitter Partisan’ Babs

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

SAN DIEGO – With a slashing attack on Sen. Barbara Boxer, Carly Fiorina called Saturday for sweeping reforms to shake up Washington, a bid to steer the race away from issues where she is to the right of mainstream voters and to frame her Republican candidacy as a strike against the status quo.

Portraying Boxer as a left-wing ideologue and prime example of a failed liberal Democratic establishment, Fiorina cast herself as an agent of change who would fight for Congressional term limits and rules changes to make Senate legislation more transparent to citizens.

It’s doubtful that Boxer will rise to the bait by engaging Fiorina on issues like term limits and open government, however. Her campaign would rather keep voters focused on matters where her rival has taken positions more conservative than the more moderate, independent voters who will decide the election — immigration, climate change and abortion , for example  — as well as the Republican’s record as the fired CEO of Hewlett Packard.

In her crisply delivered mid-day speech to state Republican convention delegates, Fiorina repeatedly criticized Boxer as a career politician who long ago overstayed her welcome in Washington.

“They say Washington is a place where people go to do good and stay to do well,” she said, in launching her verbal assault.

“To be blunt, for four decades, (Boxer) has earned her keep not by the sweat of her brow, but by the toil and struggle of hard-working Americans in the private sector. And her left-wing ideology allows her to avoid agonizing over tough decisions,” she said.

Fiorina called for an end to “a system where politicians make backroom deals to ensure their eternal re-election and the re-election of their buddies in Congress.” To that end, she pledged to serve only two terms in the Senate and called for limiting House and Senate terms to 12 years each.

“Ours was intended to be a citizen government and 12 years in each chamber of Congress is enough time to get something done without losing touch with the real world,” she said.

Fiorina also endorsed Proposition 20, an initiative that calls for a citizens commission to draw Congressional district boundaries, instead of leaving the job to the state Legislature. She also called for the defeat of Prop. 27, a measure sponsored by legislative leaders to reverse earlier, voter-approved state redistricting reforms, and for posting federal legislation online for public comment for at least two weeks before voting begins, including complete cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office.

Fiorina repeated the charge that the Obama administration’s economic stimulus bill– which Boxer supported — has been an utter failure, noting that California’s unemployment rate , now 12.3%, was 10.2% when the stimulus was passed.

She cast Boxer as a “bitter partisan” who has achieved little in her 34 years in public office, 28 as a U.S. Senator and House member.  “Barbara Boxer,” she said, “the only job you are fighting for is your own.”

Carly and the little people: Hurricane Carly blew past a crowd of about 100 cheering volunteers her campaign had assembled to greet her at the entrance of the Manchester Grand Hyatt, barely pausing to acknowledge them, let alone offer personal thank yous,  handshakes or hugs.

Fiorina was nearly 45 minutes late when she swept in at 11:25 a.m., stopping for just a few seconds to wave at her supporters, who had assembled early and lined up to practice chanting her name (weirdest sign: “Carly – Rep Our Hood,” held by a woman with a baseball cap on sideways). Then the candidate quickly made a sharp right turn, briskly walking through the crowd, up the escalator and out of sight.

A trio of elderly folks from central California, all clad in bright red “Carly” caps and t-shirts, told  Calbuzz as they walked away through the hotel lobby that they’d waited an hour to see their party’s nominee and were disappointed that she hadn’t spent some time meeting and greeting her grassroots backers.

Another reason why we call her Hurricane Carly.

Dems come to town: While Fiorina was inside getting ready for her big speech, we found our old friend Kam Kuwata outside the Hyatt, overseeing a rag-tag picket line of Boxer supporters who carried handwritten signs (“Fiorina = Massive Job Losses”) and chanted (“Bad for California – Bad for H-P”) as they marched on the sidewalk to protest the Republicans’ position on tax cuts for the rich and her record as CEO of Hewlett-Packard.

Kuwata is coordinating a new truth squad operation called “CEO Watch,” financed by the L.A. County Democratic Party, to “educate the voters about the Republican candidates for office.” He had a pink flyer, headlined “Carly Fiorina’s ‘Pink Slip’ for California,” affixed to his lapel with the biggest safety pin in California.

There were no injuries.

LATE BREAKING UPDATE: For those of you who were dying to know what happened to the California Republican Assembly’s resolution putting the state GOP on record supporting Arizona’s “papers please you immigrant suspect” law, here’s the poop: It died in the Resolutions Committee for a lack of a second (and opposition from Meg Whitman’s loyalists). Bee Person, Torey “Don’t Call Me Dutch” Van Oot (who,btw, is NOT Dutch, thereby embarrassing Calbuzz who called her “The Tulip”) has all the intel here.

Babs vs. Carly: Choice Will Be a Crucial Difference

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Calbuzz caught up with Barbara Boxer Tuesday, at the tail end of Day One of her old-school campaign flyaround, and was intrigued to find that her biggest applause line came on the issue of abortion.

As a new Field Poll showed Boxer with a slight 47-44% lead over Republican nominee Carly Fiorina, the Democratic incumbent peppered the speeches on her “Jobs for California” tour, which focused mainly on the economy, with references underscoring stark contrasts on social issues between her and Fiorina, including her own staunch pro-choice position and the Republican’s extreme pro-life stance.

No pro-life candidate has won at the top of the ticket in California in a race for governor or Senate in more than two decades. And the new poll shows a considerable gender gap which suggests that Boxer may be benefiting from her stand on choice compared to Fiorina’s, even before the issue is driven home to voters.

Overall Boxer trails Fiorina, 42-49% among men, but leads 51-40% among women. But here’s how that comes to be: Boxer runs 19 points better among Democratic women (79-12%) than among Democratic men (70-22%); nine points better among Republican women (12-81%) than Republican men (8-86%) and 10 points better among independent women (49-35%) than independent men (46-42%).

In other words, Boxer is running better among women than she is among men across all party lines.

At a time of 12.7 percent unemployment in the state, the political purpose of Boxer’s 36-hour, nine-city barnstorm was to claim credit for saving or creating several hundred thousand jobs* because of her vote for the 2009 stimulus bill, and to claim that more are on the way with gauzy promises about development of a new green energy industry.

But we’ve long argued that abortion and other values issues could be critical in the Senate race, despite the conventional wisdom that economics is all that matters in 2010. That’s why we thought the pro-choice Tom Campbell would have made a tougher Republican general election opponent for Babs, except for the inconvenient fact that he can’t win a GOP primary.

“I do think she’s out of the mainstream,” Boxer said of Fiorina in an interview.

Speaking Tuesday night in Santa Barbara (World Headquarters of the Calbuzz Department of Alliteration, Syntax and Sales) Boxer drew polite applause at an outdoor rally of local Democrats as she reprised her talking points spiel about jobs for the fourth time that day.

But the most spontaneous, emotional ovation came when she let loose an oldie but goody line about protecting abortion rights: “This election is about who’s going to stand up for a woman’s right to choose.”

Answering Calbuzz questions in the candidate’s van on the way back to her Gulfstream III charter, Boxer elaborated on the issue, saying on the day before the new Field Poll came out that she’ll be helped among “independents and Republican women” by the hard line, pro-life stance of Fiorina. The Hurricane has said during the campaign that “I absolutely would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade if the opportunity presented itself.”

“Her view is so radical,” Boxer said. “It’s more radical than any other Republican woman in the Senate who opposes choice.”

Boxer’s comments also touched on a constellation of other, non-economic issues which offer her opportunities to exploit Fiorina’s positions among independents and moderate Republicans:

–Palin – Boxer expressed delight over Fiorina’s endorsement by the right-wing former GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, which she views as a crucial signifier for voters who may not know much about iCarly: “It’s very important,” she said of the endorsement. “I’m glad she made that endorsement. The endorsement speaks volumes.”

--Climate change – Boxer emphasized her strong opposition to the proposed suspension of AB 32, California’s landmark greenhouse gas emissions legislation, which Fiorina views as “job killing”  government over-regulation. Hurricane Carly also has expressed doubts about the science of climate change and characterized as “worrying about the weather” Boxer’s focus on the issue. “My opponent confuses climate and the weather,” said Babs.

–Gun control – Both in the interview and in her speech, Boxer recalled Fiorina’s Second Amendment purist pronouncement in the primary: “If you are on a suspected terrorist watch list, she supports your right to buy a gun.” And she contrasted her support of California’s assault weapons ban with Fiorina’s opposition to the measure.

Beyond these issues, she also attacked Fiorina over her support for expanded offshore oil drilling, another issue on which Boxer’s stance may gain support from independent and moderate voters.

“She’s with the ‘drill baby drill’ crowd – that’s why she got the endorsement of Sarah Palin.”

According to the Field Poll, Boxer’s favorability among voters has taken a serious hit in recent months — it’s now 41% favorable and 52% unfavorable, not much changed from 38-51% in March but down considerably from 48-39% in January. At the same time, Fiorina’s favorability has improved to 34-29%, from 20-22% in March and 16-18% in January.

Moreover, the proportion of voters who approve of Boxer’s performance as Senator has dropped lower than it’s been since February 2006 and now stands at 42% approve and 48% disapprove. These are not good numbers. Her approval rating among Republicans is 11-80%; among Democrats just 66-20% and among independents a negative 36-40%.

On the other hand, in a match-up with Fiorina, Boxer is — for the moment at least — holding her own among independents and moderates. While Boxer leads 75-17% among Democrats and Fiorina carries Republicans 83-10%, it’s Boxer who is leading among independents with 47-39%.

Likewise, while Boxer has 84% of the liberals who account for 23% of the voters and Fiorina has 80% of the conservatives who make up 36% of the electorate, Boxer leads by a healthy 53-34% among the moderates who comprise 41% of the voting population.

The Field Poll surveyed 1,005 likely voters, including a random sub-sample of 357 voters, June 22-July 5. The margin of error for questions asked of all voters is +/- 3.2% and for questions asked of the sub-sample (including favorability) it is +/- 5.5%. Calbuzz has been refused the opportunity to subscribe to the Field Poll and has obtained the results elsewhere.

The mail’s comin’ on the stagecoach tomorrow: As widely reported, Babs on her statewide odyssey unveiled some pretty good lines responding to Carly’s now-famous, snide and snotty open mic dis of Boxer’s hair: “I’ve decided that if everyone in California who’s ever had a bad hair day votes for me, I’ll win. I’m going for the bad hair vote.”

Too bad it took nearly four weeks to come up with a snappy rejoinder, putting her in a tie with Jerry Brown for the Geezer Response Time team award for campaign 2010

*(Upon passage of the stimulus bill, aka the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Boxer put out a press release that predicted the measure would save or create 400,000 jobs in California.  She now acknowledges that she doesn’t know for sure how many jobs it’s generated. At times she cites a figure of 150,000, which she attributes to the governor’s office; at others she uses a figure of 340,000 contained in a report issued last April by the Council of Economic Advisers).

Why Killing AB32 is a Long Shot and Other Bad Bets

Monday, March 29th, 2010

We happen to have in our hot little Calbuzz claws some summary results from a February poll by FM3 (Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz) for the defenders of AB32 that found that after voters are read the Attorney General’s title and summary for the measure to repeal AB32 they oppose it 46-37%.

According to the survey — 600 likely November voters, +/- 4% — opposition grows when voters realize oil companies are behind the drive to overturn AB32. Which won’t be hard to argue because it’s TRUE, as the Sac B Minus and others have noted. In fact, says Steve Maviglio, who’s hacking and flacking for the save AB32 forces, more than 72% of the money behind the effort to overturn AB32 has come from — Michael Huffington drum roll please — Texas oil companies you just can’t trust.

Another reason to like the opposition on this one: since the creation of initiatives in California, “no” has beaten “yes” two-thirds of the time. The only other polling we’ve seen was back in July, when PPIC asked whether people support the state law reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Support for what is a description of AB32: 66% favor, 23% opposed.

We’re not sure what the effect will be of having Gov. Schwarzenegger — who has long been a defender of AB32 — suddenly skim back his support by calling for a “more carefully phased approach” in implementing the law. But as we get deeper and deeper into the campaign season, Gov. Schwarzmuscle becomes increasingly less significant. And we expect Crusty the General Brown to hammer on the climate-change issue relentlessly — in part because the environment is an issue that resonates with moderate, non-partisan voters who will ultimately decide the election.

Dumb and dumber: One of the dumbest, and most common, mistakes committed by political writers the world over (even Calbuzz may have succumbed once or twice) is to assume that the future will look like the present.

As Walter Shapiro notes, arguing persuasively in Politics Daily against over-interpreting the impact of health care reform on the mid-term election, the issues that are hot at the end of a campaign are seldom those that pundits focus on in spring or summer:

Cable TV news and hyperdrive Internet publications like the Politico tend to divine major political implications from everything, with the possible exception of Starbucks introducing a soymilk Frappuccino. The institutional bias that governs this type of political coverage is to overreact to the here and now. The working assumption is that the future will be just like the present except for the addition of a few random fluctuations to enhance the story line.

The Shapiro Thesis is, of course, the operating assumption underlying the apparent equanimity of Steve Poizner’s handlers in the face of eMeg’s 8,000 point lead in the Republican primary, and of Jerry Brown’s Zen-like shrugs at the sight of Whitman surging past him in the polls, on the strength of her all-eMeg-all-the-time TV offensive.

While Her Megness so far has had the luxury of framing and defining the election on her terms, should she turn out to be the Republican nominee for governor, things are likely to look very different down the road a piece.

Here’s a look at three low-radar factors that may mushroom into major matters in Whitman’s November match-up with Jerry Brown, or even the final weeks of Poizner’s uphill struggle against Ms. Head and Shoulders Potato Head:

The CEO factor – For now, eMeg keeps gaining traction for her core message that executive business experience is just about the perfect fit for what ails the government of California. But as we’ve noted repeatedly from the first weeks of the campaign, running a business has almost exactly nothing to do with managing the day to day political cross currents and rip tides of Sacramento, a point that is well amplified in a must-read piece by Newsweek’s Andrew Romano and Michael Hirsh:

Very little that happens inside a corporate suite is like governing a state or a country. CEOs, like generals, can issue orders and expect them to be carried out. Jobs and budgets can be pared by fiat, with little public controversy. It’s not nearly as simple for governors or senators—even presidents. Their authority is never absolute. They are constrained by the separation of powers and forced to ride the tiger of public opinion; they must persuade, cajole, and arm-twist to get their way.

As Harry Truman once said about his presidential successor, Dwight Eisenhower: “He’ll sit there all day saying do this, do that, and nothing will happen. Poor Ike—it won’t be a bit like the Army.” Beyond that, there’s rarely been a time in American industry when CEOs have been so discredited. The last “CEO presidency”—George W. Bush’s—ended up in a ditch. The CEOs of Wall Street have provoked outrage by awarding themselves record bonuses during the worst recession in decades—a recession they mainly caused.

The Goldman Sachs scandal – eMeg’s past shady, and legally questionable, dealings with the world’s largest greed head investment firm is the case study
that precisely makes the point about the dangers of CEOs grabbing the levers of government power, which is one major source of the seething resentment of voters across the nation.

What kind of business relationship can Californians expect their state to have with Goldman Sachs and firms like it if Meg Whitman becomes governor? Here’s a clue: In a report called “Corporate cash boosts Whitman,” the Associated Press reported that “The biggest donations came from New York investment bankers, hedge fund managers, attorneys and others.” If there’s one thing these guys know it’s how to prime the pump.

Not that Whitman’s old pals at Goldman haven’t already been profiting off California’s misery. They were hired to manage some multibillion dollar state bond offerings but, as reported in the Los Angeles Times, millions in fees didn’t stop Goldman from secretly undermining California’s credit rating. That hurt the very sales they were hired to manage. As the Times states, the firm “urged some of its big clients to place investment bets against California bonds” by “proposing a way for … clients to profit from California’s deepening financial misery.”

Ideology – The unintended consequence of Poizner running so hard to the right in the primary is that, for the moment at least, Whitman often appears to be a moderate Republican and, thus, a more attractive and more formidable candidate for the general election race against Brown.

But Press Corps Elders George Skelton and Peter Schrag have dug into eMeg’s much-trumpeted 48-page policy agenda (which the nit-picking Dan Morain estimates actually to be only about 20 pages, after subtracting the page presentation gee-gaws and glam shots of Herself) and concluded that any moderation perceived in eMeg’s views is mostly accidental, a perspective Brown has already seized on in his recent populist pronouncements.

Meg Whitman’s Republican rival calls her a liberal. He’s not even close. Political writers often describe her as moderate. That misses the mark too.

Supporting abortion rights — even state funding of abortions for the poor — doesn’t automatically make her a moderate. Not when she’s prepared to whack benefits for welfare moms — slash almost any program — to avoid raising taxes.

She opposes same-sex marriage but supports recognizing those unions allowed before Proposition 8 passed. That doesn’t make her a moderate either. Not when she insists on eliminating 40,000 state jobs.

Calbuzz bottom line: It’s usually a mistake to confuse rookie phenoms of spring training with the veteran ballplayers who usually make the big plays in the World Series.

Fuck you, you fucking fuck: Kudos to Carl Cannon for putting into clear historic context Joe Biden’s healthy cussing kudo to the President moments before Obama signed the health care reform legislation, a usage much panned by the prudes and prisses of the internets and cable TV. As Cannon notes the f-bomb has a proud and rich history in American politics, not least as used by his own father, the renowned Lou Cannon, upon beholding the beauty of a Sandy Koufax perfect game.

Press Clips: Tales of the Tapes & Abortion Wars

Friday, November 13th, 2009

jerrygoldLeaving money on the table: Our friend Beth Fouhy got a wheelbarrow full of pure gold out of her interview with Jerry Brown last April, but left most of it sitting on the table.  A national political writer for AP, Fouhy was one of five journalists whose interviews with Brown or his AG office staff members were secretly taped by ex-press secretary Scott Gerber, in what has turned into a Capitol political drama worthy of its own reality show.

As Joe Mathews notes, the transcript of the lengthy Fouhy interview offers a case study, not only of Brown’s “cagey, canny, and candid” adversarial style  with reporters (Calbuzz would add “charming, churlish and coercive” to the list) but also his singular insight and talent for practical politics.

Because Fouhy was writing a profile of Brown for a national audience, the piece resulting from the interview was of necessity larded up lots of ancient history (not to mention balancing but boring Steve Poizner quotes) that required the sacrifice of most of the great, political junkie stuff she wrung out of Brown, from his to-the-penny recall about his rival’s fundraising to his utter disdain for campaign consultants.

Knowing Beth, we assume she was saving her jucier, insider stuff for a piece closer to the election, when interest would be higher and interviews with Crusty harder to come by. Which is another reason taping even on-the-record conversations with journalists is unethical at least: if the transcripts become public, the reporter’s proprietary questions and the answers he or she has collected are suddenly public property. That sucks. Sorry Beth, that didn’t stop us for one second  from using your stuff.

navelgazingJournalism navel-gazing alert: Investigative pundit George Skelton offers a thoughtful take about his queasiness and guilty voyeuristic feelings at reading every word of the tapes, a rumination that recalls many of the hard questions about the practice and ethics of journalism famously raised by Janet Malcolm in her seminal New Yorker pieces called “The Journalist and the Murderer.”

“Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible,” she wrote back in 1990, setting off an enormous kerfuffle among card-carrying ink-stained wretches across the land.

He is a kind of confidence man, preying on people’s vanity, ignorance or loneliness, gaining their trust and betraying them without remorse. Like the credulous widow who wakes up one day to find the charming young man and all her savings gone, so the consenting subject of a piece of nonfiction learns—when the article or book appears—his hard lesson. Journalists justify their treachery in various ways according to their temperaments. The more pompous talk about freedom of speech and “the public’s right to know”; the least talented talk about Art; the seemliest murmur about earning a living.

Coming from a member of the tribe, such ruthless self-examination about the inherently manipulative nature of the journalistic enterprise was greeted as pure calumny by many of Malcolm’s colleagues.

It’s a plain fact that reporters and editors are notoriously thin-skinned about their own shortcomings – and we include ourselves in that category. In the New Media age, however,  it’s also true that the process of news gathering has become a story in itself,; the time when reporters could enjoy the luxury of treating as private property the ways and means they do their jobs is past, overtaken by the digital world’s demand for transparency.

threecardmonte

Enough with the wool  gathering, what about the politics? Reasonable people may differ about the significance of the content of the tapes: Chilling look into the deep recesses of a troubled soul? Revealing glimpse of journalism at its best and worst? Elephant giving birth to mouse? You Be The Judge. But all right-thinking people can agree on one thing: as a political matter, Brown has botched the handling of this controversy.

More than two weeks after the first disclosure about Gerber recording conversations with reporters without their knowledge or consent, the AG’s office is still playing defense on the matter, and not very effectively at that.

On the day Gavin Newsom dropped out of the primary race, we warned that being the only Democrat left standing would prove a mixed blessing; the serial blundering by Brown’s minions in trying to get their story straight about the recordings has handed the GOP and its field of candidates a cudgel with which to bash him – not on ancient history  like Rose Bird , Medflies or Adrianna friggin’ Gianturco – but on something au courant and easily understood by voters.

The AG’s internal report of the recordings mess – i.e. some poor schmuck was assigned to investigate two of his bosses and, surprise, surprise, found them pure as the driven snow – just doesn’t pass the smell test, even if there wasn’t an email showing that Brown’s chief deputy knew, or should have known, in advance about Gerber’s plan to tape the conversation that got him busted. Which there is.

With Brown’s office concurrently running a probe of the scandal known as ACORN, which happens to include an investigation of whether secretly recorded videotapes were legal, the public perception’s of the integrity of that case  is at risk, as well.

032-119

Which is precisely why Republicans are now in full bay over the tapes matter. The state GOP on Thursday released an online ad attacking Brown on the issue (the tight shots of his old guy eyebrows may be the most damning image in the spot).  NB: This is just an online ad that only a handful of voters will ever see. To make it an effective message point, someone would have to put it on TV with about $2 million behind it. As is,  it’s mostly show-trial stuff.

Meanwhile, the party’s three wannabe govs have found rare unanimity on l’affaire des enregistrements. Team Whitman tagged the affair a shining example of why “Californians have lost confidence in Sacramento politicians” while The Commish said Brown has “failed to exercise (his) duties” to pursue impartial justice, echoing eMeg’s demand for a “third party investigation.”

Tom Campbell, of course, was the only one of the three to actually do his homedudley_do_right-703696work and suggest a rational policy solution (which coincidentally would offer Brown a political pathway out of the briar patch). Said Dudley Do Right:

The Attorney General should invite the State Auditor to conduct an independent investigation pursuant to California Government Code Section 8547.5 to determine whether the Attorney General’s office has violated state law. This step will assure the people of California of the neutrality and validity of the outcome.

The secret taping of reporter conversations is a very serious matter that could have a chilling effect on press freedoms. It is all the more serious when undertaken by a state law enforcement agency without proper consent.

Amen, brother.

Department of Shameless Self-Promotion: In case you missed it, the ByGodLATimes has graciously posted the radio clip from Warren Olney’s “Which Way LA” in which Times Assistant Managing Editor David Lauter is joined by an original Calbuzzer in a discussion of the Times/USC Poll findings as they relate to the constitutional convention and government reform.

Abortion wars: For those, like us, who think the political impact of House Democrats simultaneously approving health care reform and retreating on abortion rights has been underplayed, Washpost media man Howard Kurtz has an excellent round-up of news, analysis and commentary on the issue.

A Feminist’s Outrage at Abortion-Health Care Deal

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

By Susan RoseSusan_Rose
Special to Calbuzz

Saturday night’s vote on health care reform was a disaster of mega proportions for American women.

Amid the legislative horse-trading that occurred to pass the bill, women lost big time: the House of Representatives cast 220 votes for health care – and 220 against reproductive health for women.

Between the Catholic Bishops lobbying and the Democratic Blue Dogs yelping we should have seen this coming months ago. We didn’t have a chance.

President Obama said he didn’t want to change the status quo (the existing policy embodied in the Hyde Amendment allows abortions for rape, incest or when a mother’s life is at stake) but that policy has been wavering for years – one vote away at the Supreme Court.

Now Congress has done the hard work for the Supremes. It has been 36 years since Roe v. Wade was decided and now women are about to lose access to safe abortion services. Women are the sacrificial lambs for health care reform and the Democratic Party led the way.

The weapon of choice was the anti-abortion amendment authored by Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich.

It cleverly blocks coverage of abortions from several directions: Private insurance companies participating in the new public health exchange would not be able to cover any abortions; women receiving tax subsidies could not use their own money to purchase private insurance that covers abortion, even if it is 100 percent of their own funds; low-income women who depend entirely on public health care would have no access to abortion and no alternative to care; other women would be forced to buy a separate insurance “rider” to cover any future abortions. With these restrictions squeezing out nearly all insurance for abortions, who would be left to provide such services?

The health care debate now moves to the U.S. Senate.

Even if Senators eliminate the offensive Stupak amendment, a final bill must, of course, satisfy both houses. As currently proposed, the health care reform bill would cause more women to have less access to comprehensive health care.

For more than 25 years, the Democratic Party has championed reproductive freedom for women. It has been a main plank in party platforms and all national political conventions. Women’s organizations like NOW, Emily’s List and The Feminist Majority have made choice a litmus test for their endorsements and, in return, have recruited candidates and raised money for their elections. The Democratic Party depended on this support.

nancy_pelosiThe Democrats had an excruciating choice: health care reform or reproductive rights for women. Under Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s leadership they chose health care. Perhaps the Speaker believes that this will be worked out in conference committee, but considering the firestorm now ignited on both sides of the debate, I doubt it. Once again women have been sent a message that they don’t count.

Women may hold up “half the sky” in the rest of the world, but in the US culture, not much has changed. The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) introduced in 1972 still hasn’t passed, and CEDAW, the international treaty proposing the elimination of “all forms of discrimination against women,” has been ratified by 186 countries but not by the US. Rape and domestic violence exist in epidemic proportions and universal childcare is not available. Women still don’t matter.

A friend and longtime Democrat told me yesterday she is re-registering as an Independent. The Democratic Party has a lot at stake in this health care vote, not least the majority support of women voters.

Am I angry? You better believe it. The message from Washington D.C. is clear – our government will decide for women how and in what way we control our bodies. We have been hearing the debate for years but we are now much closer to that reality. It was the closing bell on Saturday night.

Susan Rose, a board member of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, served 8 years on the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors and writes regularly about women’s issues for Calbuzz.