DeGette lauds health bill as ‘strong foundation’; pro-choice groups see betrayal

Colorado U.S. Rep. Dianna DeGette, vice chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee and head of the pro-choice caucus, agreed to a deal to assuage the concerns of the Rep. Bart Stupak bloc of pro-life Democrats and convince them to vote for health reform tonight. The deal hinged on an Executive Order that would be issued by the president to strengthen language that would essentially prohibit federal funds from paying for abortions.

In her speech on the floor in favor of the bill, DeGette called the legislation a “strong foundation”– language that signals she knows many of her supporters who counted on her to stand up for the full range of legal reproductive rights including abortion will be deeply unsatisfied with the Executive Order.

Almost immediately after DeGette’s speech, progressive blogger Jane Hamsher at the popular blog Firedog Lake set up an online survey that asked “Who is the Most to Blame for Selling Out Abortion Rights in the Health Care Bill?”

diana degette

Choose one:

1. NARAL, for staying silent in exchange for White House access

2. Nancy Pelosi, for not taking Stupak seriously from the start

3. Dianna DeGette, head of Pro-choice caucus who agreed to the Executive Order before she saw it

4. Planned Parenthood, for staying silent in exchange for health center money

5. Pro-Choice caucus, who broke their promised, didn’t walk out and voted for the bill

6. Barack Obama, who signed the Executive Order

So Far DeGette is low in the voting. Readers are putting the lion’s share of the blame on the president and the pro-choice caucus.

DeGette’s speech:

“Madame Speaker, just as when building a house, you have to first put down a foundation. Today, we are laying the foundation for a health care system that will provide every American access to high-quality care.

“A foundation that will immediately ban insurance companies from dropping people from coverage when they get sick—people like my childhood friend who lost his insurance when he got prostate cancer and later died too soon.

“A foundation that will, beginning this year will give tax credits to small businesses so they can offer affordable coverage to their employees; a foundation that will NOW give parents of young adults the ability to keep their kids on their policies while they start their careers; a foundation that will finally give adults with pre-existing conditions the ability to buy affordable insurance.

“And starting right away, insurance companies cannot exclude children like my own young daughter who have chronic conditions, such as diabetes or asthma, from coverage.

“Madame Speaker, this bill is just a foundation—we still need to build upon it. But it sets up a good, strong, foundation—one that will serve us now and in the years to come. Vote yes on this historic bill.”

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