(John Amato: Please donate to Connie at Blue America’s 2010 act blue page here.)
From the 2008 Democratic Party Platform:
“The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.”
Considering that “strong and unequivocal” support it’s almost impossible to believe that a comprehensive health care reform bill passed with all Democratic votes and signed by a Democratic president would end up restricting access to abortion, isn’t it? Indeed, one would have assumed that any such bill would require coverage for abortion for all Americans. And yet, in one of the most naked acts of political opportunism we’ve seen in quite some time, a small minority of anti-choice Democrats in the congress have managed to force the pro-choice majority to make it difficult for women to obtain access to abortion coverage even if they pay for it with their own money. And no one is more responsible for this than the congressional representative from Michigan’s first district, Bart Stupak.
From the moment the administration announced that they were going ahead with health care reform this year, the anti-choice groups geared up prepared to stage a phony hissy fit the moment the details of any bill were announced. In what turns out to have been a useless compromise, pro-choice Democrats agreed to keep the status quo of the Hyde Amendment, (something that they had been fighting since its inception more than 30 years ago.) But that wasn’t good enough for Congressman Stupak who insisted on attaching his own amendment which further restricted access to abortion. With the generous help of the Republicans (who voted against the final House bill anyway) he got it passed. And that set the stage for Ben Nelson to run the same game in the Senate leading us to a ridiculous game of chicken in which Bart Stupak and his dwindling band of anti-choice zealots are what stands between America and the most ambitious plan to reform the health care system in decades. He simply doesn’t care about anything but his own narrow agenda.
One of his constituents, Connie Saltonstall, was appalled. She couldn’t believe that her congressman would actually vote against health care reform based upon the lie that the Nelson Amendment would force everyone to pay for abortions. She had personally heard him promise months ago that regardless of what happened with his amendment he would vote for health care reform, and now he said he was willing to let the bill die rather than budge from his dishonest and inexplicable position. She waited to see if anyone would step up to challenge this man and when no one did, she decided that she had no choice but to do it herself.
“Michigan and the First District are facing enormous challenges and we cannot afford to sacrifice solutions for individual agendas. Stupak is co-chair of the Pro-Life Caucus and is putting their interests above those of his district. No federal funds have been used for abortions since 1977, and that provision will stay in effect without his amendment. In my opinion, Bart Stupak has shown that he is willing to block important legislation to support his own agenda at the expense of those he was elected to represent.”
I had the opportunity to meet Ms Saltonstall last week and I was very impressed. She is a person of obvious intelligence, experience and personal charm. Just as important for Blue America, she is a stalwart progressive who knows what she believes and isn’t afraid to speak truth to power. And yes, she is a pro-choice woman who believes that everyone has a right to their religious beliefs but that no one has a right to deny the constitutional rights of others. She’s the real deal.
I asked her at some point in our chat how she could deal with the awful pressures and influences of national politics and she replied with a powerful comment. She told me that she had lost a beloved child some years back — and once the worst has happened to you, nothing ever frightens you again.
I believed her absolutely. Those Villagers aren’t going to scare her one bit.
Blue America is proud to endorse Connie Saltonstall for the Democratic nomination in Michigan’s 1st congressional district. Like the National Organization for Women and Democracy for America, which have likewise endorsed her in recent days, we believe that she represents the most important values of the Democratic party. If you’d care to donate to her campaign you can do so here.
Please help me welcome Connie Saltonstall to Blue America for her first online chat with the national netroots.