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If anti-choice activists have their way, Pennsylvania Republican Joe Pitts will be new chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health. Why? Because the subcommittee sets House policy on abortion and the activists fear that Michigan "moderate" Fred Upton, who appears slated for the chairmanship of the Energy and Commerce Committee itself, might put a stick in their spokes. Pitts, on the other hand, became notorious among progressives over the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, which at one point verged on derailing health insurance reform.

In a letter sent Thursday to members of the panel of House GOP leaders who pick committee chairmen, the National Right to Life Committee's legislative director, Douglas Johnson, wrote that anti-abortion activists could only accept the election of Upton as chairman of Energy and Commerce if Pitts is assigned to run the Health Subcommittee and abortion foes win seats on the committee.

"Because Mr. Upton's record demonstrates a disagreement with pro-life policies on multiple critical issues that fall within the jurisdiction of the Energy and Commerce Committee, we urge you to withhold support for his ascension to the chairmanship," Johnson wrote, "unless and until there is assurance that the Health Subcommittee will be chaired by Mr. Pitts, and unless all of the Republican vacancies on the committee will be filled by members who are firmly committed to pro-life positions."

While most of the action on anti-abortion has taken place at the state level in recent years - some 600 pieces of legislation in the past year alone - the activists have an agenda in Congress, too.

At The Nation, Katha Pollitt writes:

"This election was not about choice," Planned Parenthood head Cecile Richards told me by phone. "The bottom line was jobs and the economy. But if you look at close races where the prochoice candidate won, and where women knew the difference between the candidates on reproductive rights, they voted prochoice and arguably made the difference." As Richards points out, Michael Bennet, Richard Blumenthal and Patty Murray all won by double digits among women.

Richards thinks Democrats will realize they need prochoice women's support to win. "Especially where everyone says they're for jobs and against taxes, choice is an issue that clearly defines for women who's on their side. No one ran ads proudly proclaiming they were antichoice." She also noted that the Senate still has a prochoice majority.

If that's too optimistic for you, try this: only one of the new Republican senators thinks man-made global warming is real. So by the time they've taken control of your womb, you'll probably be dead.

Without having tallied close races, NARAL's BlogforChoice put the anti-choice forces as of Nov. 3 clearly in control of the House, with 248 Representatives in the anti-choice column and 33 with a mixed record. In the Senate the lines are more closely drawn, with 46 anti-choice, 40 pro-choice and 14 mixed-choice Senators. In both houses together, that's a 60-vote gain for the anti-choice forces.

As Pollitt and other pro-choice advocates see things, the heavily anti-choice forces will seek to take action in half a dozen or more areas in the coming two years. Among them:

• The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (also known as "Hyde on Steroids" or Stupak on Steroids"): This would make permanent the 34-year-old Hyde Amendment, which restricts federal spending on abortion but must now be renewed each year. Among other things, the act would not allow a person or employer to get income tax deductions for health care premiums or co-pays if the plan covered abortions.

• The Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act: This would ban federal money for any organization that performs abortions or funds organizations that do. Target: Planned Parenthood.

• Ban Washington, D.C., from spending money for abortions for poor women.

• Rejuvenate the massive failures of "abstinence-only" programs that blocked public school discussion of birth control.

Just a few more examples of why elections have consequences. Just one more arena in which progressives will be in for major fights long before the next elections take place.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sat Nov 20, 2010 at 02:46 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  so where do the pro and anti choice PEOPLE stand? (0+ / 0-)

    where is public opinion these days?

    on the PRO or on the ANTI side?

    Have the TeaPublicans fixed the economy yet?

    by KnotIookin on Sat Nov 20, 2010 at 02:49:38 PM PST

  •  The fact that the anti-choice crowd (16+ / 0-)

    is so forcefully in favor of abstinence-only education tells me that many of them are more interested in controlling the sexuality of women than anything else. They hate and fear empowered women, and that's the real issue.

    TSA = Transportation Sexual Assault

    by Anima on Sat Nov 20, 2010 at 02:51:54 PM PST

  •  If elections have consequences, (8+ / 0-)

    what happened to our?  You know, the 2008 mandate and majority.   It is absolutely amazing how little power the Republicans had in 08 and technically still have in 2010 [only the house] and how they still managed to call all the shots.

    Don't tax the rich, starve the poor.

    by dkmich on Sat Nov 20, 2010 at 02:57:33 PM PST

  •  The war on women continues (14+ / 0-)

    I have to say I am so glad to see the use of "anti-choice" when talking about this issue.  Pro-life obviously implies another thing altogether - and aren't we all pro-life?  We need to drive that message home to everyone and stop allowing the other side to dominate this narrative.

  •  Thank you for using the term "anti-choice" (10+ / 0-)

    Better yet:  "pro-criminalization."

    It's the Supreme Court, Stupid!

    by Radiowalla on Sat Nov 20, 2010 at 03:09:26 PM PST

  •  It's a war on women all right, (9+ / 0-)
    but mostly middle class and poor women.|
    If you are wealthy, you probably have the means to get what you want. You can circumvent the law (if neceessary), by going elsewhere to get an abortion, birth control, whatever.
    Rules/laws are for someone else, not for the rich Rethugs.
    Outlawing any of those women's reproductive issues changes nothing for THEM and might buy them a few votes.
  •  You know, it must be nice (10+ / 0-)

    to be the ones in charge and never have to sit in your bathroom, chewing your fingernails to the quick and hoping the test comes up negative, because if it comes up positive you risk anything from family censure to being forced to carry the child because there are not abortion services in your area (and then subsequently being called a "welfare queen" because you need the help) to knowing that you don't have the money to get a legal medical procedure and knowing that a bunch of fucking MALE politicians WHO WILL NEVER HAVE TO DEAL WITH THIS EVER have decided your life's course for you.

    I've fucking had it with the abortion "debate".  IF YOU DON'T WANT ONE, DON'T GET ONE.  IF YOU DO NOT POSSESS THE BIOLOGICAL EQUIPMENT TO GET PREGNANT, SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP.  There is no "debate" here.  I'm about at the point where I think if it doesn't affect you, you don't get to make rules on it.  Haven't been in war?  No voting to go to war.  Male?  No making rules about abortion.  Straight?  No fucking voting on gay marriage.  Sorry, but my tolerance level has gone to roughly ... zero these days.

    If you want to fight and die for my right to sit here and bitch, sleep with whomever you want.

    by talismanlangley on Sat Nov 20, 2010 at 03:17:41 PM PST

  •  all the more reason to fight for now and then (0+ / 0-)

    Just a few more examples of why elections have consequences. Just one more arena in which progressives will be in for major fights long before the next elections take place.

    2012 needs to be even more decisive a victory in Congress and the Executive

    "calling for a 5" deck gun is not parody. Not by a long shot." (gnaborretni),Warning-Some Snark Above

    by annieli on Sat Nov 20, 2010 at 03:17:52 PM PST

  •  Good and sobering post. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z, Kat 4 Obama
  •  Democrats failed to get the word out, (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ManhattanMan, G2geek, Matt Z, asterkitty

    moderate and left leaning women stayed home, because they were not motivated by the political Party should be representing them.

    Women, who traditionally vote for Democrats, who decide elections. Instead, Republicans hijacked the motivational effect of the idiotic, mindless 'Mama Grizzly'.

    Yet another example of total messaging failure on the part of Democrats. I swear, Democrats went out of their way to fail.

    Fixing the US and world economy is easy. Tax speculation, not labor.

    by shpilk on Sat Nov 20, 2010 at 03:18:24 PM PST

  •  Beware: Fractured syntax warning in above post, (0+ / 0-)

    sorry .. multitasking does that to me.

    Fixing the US and world economy is easy. Tax speculation, not labor.

    by shpilk on Sat Nov 20, 2010 at 03:20:08 PM PST

  •  Ask Bristol Palin about abstinence only-- (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z, asterkitty

    it worked so well for her.

    •  Apparently she's a born-again virgin (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Matt Z

      She and The Situation are doing a truly hideous PSA. She claims she's saving it for marriage. He endorses Magnums.

      Either I missed the point, or there wasn't one. It was nauseating all around.

      Just because you're not a drummer doesn't mean that you don't have to keep time. -- T. Monk

      by susanala on Sat Nov 20, 2010 at 03:31:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Rightwing target list (0+ / 0-)

    This would be a really good time to remind right wing purists they ought to be primarying every single WISHList star-- all of the elected pro-choice Republicans in the House and Senate.

  •  Sherman, Turn the wayback machine to 2005... (0+ / 0-)

    and....

    NARAL, and many people here, whined and cried about Langevin, the way they whined and cried about Harry Reid, because of those Democrats' personal opposition to abortion. Didn't we know, they demanded, that choice was a core principle of the Democratic Party?

    To which I have a simple answer: The hell it is.

    One of the key problems with the Democratic Party is that single issue groups have hijacked it for their pet causes. So suddenly, Democrats are the party of abortion, of gun control, of spottend owls, of labor, of trial lawyers, etc, etc., et-frickin'-cetera. We don't stand for any ideals, we stand for specific causes. We don't have a core philosophy, we have a list with boxes to check off.

    So while Republicans focus on building an ideological foundation for their cause, we focus on checking off those boxes on the list. Check enough boxes, and you're a Democrat in good standing.

    Problem is, abortion and choice aren't core principles of the Democratic Party. Rather, things like a Right to Privacy are. And from a Right to Privacy certain things flow -- abortion rights, access to contraceptives, opposition to the Patriot Act, and freedom to worship the gods of our own choosing, or none at all.

    Part of our problem now is that we are still working off of the checklists, the non-partisan groups like NARAL still haven't learned the lesson of getting a anti-choice Democrat is better than getting a pro choice Republican.  As long as the Democrats are in charge, the changes won't come up.  If the Republicans are change will definitely come up, and the Pro Choice Republican will vote for it.

    Part of the Electoral Consequences is that people (the voters) don't understand that Choice is part of Privacy, just like DADT, and the other issues the left talking heads have pushed.  We haven't linked to the core issue, Privacy.  And the question of how much are you willing to give up for Republicans to rule?

    We, Democrats in general, and the single issue groups, have been and are remiss in pushing their cause(s) without emphasis on the underlining basic American Constitutional principles that these issues stem from.  

    ... the watchword of true patriotism: "Our country - when right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right." - Carl Schurz; Oct. 17, 1899

    by NevDem on Sat Nov 20, 2010 at 03:23:41 PM PST

    •  choice (5+ / 0-)

      Problem is, abortion and choice aren't core principles of the Democratic Party.

      No, it is part of the party platform. Our elected Democratic leaders are just afraid to mention it.

      Platform

      Choice
      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.

      The brilliant, liberal voice of Sam Seder is back! Free mp3 play, Free live stream, Free i-Tunes. M-F show. (Free for now.)

      by OLinda on Sat Nov 20, 2010 at 03:36:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  If You link it to 'Rights' (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Meteor Blades

        like 'privacy' and "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated,..."  It becomes personal and not a wonkish thing like a Platform Plank that no one except the single interest groups pay attention to.

        If You fail to have people perceive a threat by legislation that looses something like Privacy and Personal Security, you fail in gaining support for your cause.

        Perhaps, if Single issue groups were more effective in framing their cause in terms of a loss of privacy then Dems would be less timid in addressing the issue.  If you give them some supportive framing points, they tend to use them when they fit their personal beliefs.  

        ... the watchword of true patriotism: "Our country - when right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right." - Carl Schurz; Oct. 17, 1899

        by NevDem on Sat Nov 20, 2010 at 05:18:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  You mean like the anti-choice Dems (5+ / 0-)

      who make abortion an issue during the health care debacle? Or the Democratic president who signed an executive order restricting federal funds for abortion?

      How again are anti-choice Dems preferable? Given half the chance, they are just as rabid as the Republicans in their hatred of women.

      •  Lets see.... (0+ / 0-)

        who make abortion an issue during the health care debacle? Or the Democratic president who signed an executive order restricting federal funds for abortion?

        It was made an issue and a temporary fix was put in place. My understanding of the executive order is that it was no more restrictive than current legislation.  It can also be rescinded at the stroke of the executive pen, given that the environment encourages it.  Since R's control the house the environment doesn't.

        Now, was Stupak primaried, or was there a powerful Dem that supports Choice and Privacy that was ready to challenge? (since he didn't run) And did that person Win? (I think not)

        How again are anti-choice Dems preferable? Given half the chance, they are just as rabid as the Republicans in their hatred of women

        Can't disagree with you there, but with the Republicans in charge, they would like to make their changes permanent.  That what you want?

        ... the watchword of true patriotism: "Our country - when right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right." - Carl Schurz; Oct. 17, 1899

        by NevDem on Sat Nov 20, 2010 at 05:29:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Old Yooper Here (0+ / 0-)

          Bart Stupak was completely unprepared for the attention drawn to him by his amendment.  He was even more unprepared for the betrayal of the C Street gamg (where he resided) and the U.S. Catholic Council of Bishops (himself a Catholic)  by abandoning him when it was crunch time.

          Scott Roeder wannabes in his district had always been a thorn in his side, but they escalated over healthcare reform.  A man and his adult son were arrested for making death threats against the Congressman.  Having an anti-abortion track record didn't spare him because Democrats will never be able to appease the anti-abortion crowd.

          He refused to make any endorsements or campaign in his district for Gary McDowell.  The local party were taken by surprise by his retirement announcement so weren't up to speed for the election.  The Republican candidate was a beneficiary of the non-stop negative ads paid for by the Chamber and other outside groups in support of Republican candidates.  

          Don't look back, something may be gaining on you. - L. "Satchel" Paige

          by arlene on Sat Nov 20, 2010 at 06:28:57 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Access to abortion is fundamental (8+ / 0-)

      I have seen the lifers up close and personal.  They do not respect women as moral agents.  As long as Democratic candidates are wishy-washy about reproductive rights, women will stay home.  If it is a matter of voting for tweedle-dum or tweedle dee, they won't bother.  Women of child-bearing age are busy.  They need a reason to vote.

      The debate over the Stupak Amendment cost the Democratic Party big time.  Women who may need an abortion saw themselves as expendable and it was disheartening.  Lifers won't vote for a Democrat if the alternative is a Republican who is against abortion so having a candidate pretend it is a minor issue isn't going to win any votes from them.

      Don't look back, something may be gaining on you. - L. "Satchel" Paige

      by arlene on Sat Nov 20, 2010 at 04:41:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Arlene Has it Right (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        arlene, Matt Z

        Anti-abortion zealots have no respect for women nor the slightest concern for their welfare. I've escorted at a PP clinic for seven years and have come to know a core group of about 30 or 40 anti-abortion zealots, a dozen of whom I see every week, quite well. In their eyes, even those of the female protesters, women who seek abortions are loose and immoral (the word slut is sometimes used); they use abortion as an easy method of birth control; and they lack the mental gravitas and emotional stability to make decision about their own body. Therefore, the state should tell women what they can and cannot do. Oh, and about 95% also oppose any form of contraception or family planning since both are simply avenues to enjoy sex for the sake of sex which everyone knows is immoral and a grievous sin. In other words sex serves only one purpose—to produce babies. Any other use is not authorized by God or the state's morality police.

        Were they to have their way we'd undoubtedly have religious police similar to those in Saudi Arabia.

  •  Big O can use his veto pen (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek, Matt Z, supercereal

    on this piece of crap. But I'm still a little queasy over the deal he made with Stupidassak.

    It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness - Eleanor Roosevelt

    by Fish in Illinois on Sat Nov 20, 2010 at 03:26:38 PM PST

    •  Do you really think he will? (0+ / 0-)

      People keep bringing up the veto, but I have my doubts that the President has the political courage needed to actually veto stuff, especially 'politically sensitive' issues like abortion.

      •  I think he will when the time comes (0+ / 0-)

        Right now, with a Democratic majority in the Senate, Obama doesn't need to veto very much. Any toxic high profile legislation that passes the House along party or ideological lines will either die in the Senate or be subjected to a Democratic filibuster.  If we had lost the Senate, it would be a different situation.

        Watch Obama in 2011. You may be surprised.

        It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness - Eleanor Roosevelt

        by Fish in Illinois on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 09:55:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for this information, Meteor Blades. nt (6+ / 0-)

    "WE are the media we've been waiting for." - Kat 4 Obama

    by Kat 4 Obama on Sat Nov 20, 2010 at 03:33:07 PM PST

  •  To keep cultural issues as THE distraction (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek

    Republican strategy is so transparent. Keep tossing up cultural issues as raw meat to evangelicals and progressives so no one notices how they and their masters are about to come under indictments for insider trading. The implications of the FBI investigation are apparently vast.

    But to cover them over we get Holder screaming that a jury trial that CONVICTED Ghailani and sent him to prison for twenty years is grounds to impeach Holder!

  •  Hooray for anti-choice. (0+ / 0-)

    Maybe it will help Democrats if the anti-choice forces make a few gains.

    I know many Educated, Liberated, women who have Upper-Middle Class (or better) lifestyles. They vote Republican because they like Tax Cuts.

    Fine.  

    Maybe if the Meg Whitmans and Olympia Snowes of the world (and their younger yuppie sisters) were faced with the threat of government control of their bodies they might wake the eff up.

    Maybe.

    •  Not bloody likely :-( (0+ / 0-)

      If it's
      Not your body
      Then it's
      Not your choice
      AND it's
      None of your damn business!

      by TheOtherMaven on Sat Nov 20, 2010 at 04:18:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  If they are upper middle class and above (5+ / 0-)

      they don't have to worry as much. They generally have the money to go to private doctors and hospitals, or even out of the country to get an abortion. The ones who will be hurt the most are the lower-middle class and poor women who don't have those advantages. But no one really cares about us, we are nothing but welfare queens and whiners (except when it's politically expedient to shake our hands and show how much they 'care' about the 'little people').

    •  members of the oligarchy.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ManhattanMan

      ..... get all the abortions they want, by going to private doctors where discretion is assured.

      People here who work for doctors have described this from first-hand experience, seeing prominent pro-lifers show up at their offices for "procedures."

      "One law for me, another law for thee."

  •  what we need to do is put these people.... (0+ / 0-)

    .... under a microscope.  Not to reason with them but to strip bare the fact that they are seeking to embody religious doctrine as government policy.   The key question is:

    Do you believe that a human body without a functioning brain has a human mind?

    Science and medicine are in full agreement that a) the existence of a mind in a living person* is dependent upon brain functioning, and b) the medical definition of death is "brain death," the cessation of brain functioning.  

    If they try to disagree with either of those points, you've got them: and a few follow-ups will rapidly disclose that their beliefs are based purely upon religion, and so they are attempting to insert religious dogma into law.  

    We already know this; we want to force them to admit it in public and then use it against them for all it's worth.

    ---

    * ...in a living person:  Science & medicine do not attempt to deal with issues related to "the hereafter," or what happens after the end of life or before its beginning; but neither does the law.  That's a subject for philosophy and religion, and freedom of conscience.  

    •  Two words, one name: Terry Schiavo (0+ / 0-)

      A few years back nearly every Republican in politics today stood up and announced that a human body without a functioning brain has a mind. They even tried to pass legislation announcing this as so. And now they control the House.

      I really have lost all confidence in the majority of the American electorate to remember anything political for longer than a couple of months.

  •  Use ridicule. (0+ / 0-)

    Ridicule them.  Mock them.  Make fun of them.  Puritans hate that, they have no sense of humor, and the result will be to push them over the edge where they say things we can use against them later.

  •  just watched the movie (0+ / 0-)

    agora. about the rise and domination of christianity and hypatia, a woman scholar and astronomer.

    the anti-intellectual, fundamentalist destructive fervor painted in the movie are themes that are relevant to what we are living through today.

    because of christianity, science was destroyed and we were plunged into the dark ages. it took 1,200 years to start to recover the knowledge that hypatia knew.

    this could all too easily happen again.

  •  Ironic: Same committee as Dingell coup. (0+ / 0-)

    The Democrats lost their majority largely because they forgot about the Midwest.

    One of the first Democratic Party acts after the 2008 election was to throw out Michigan congressman John Dingell from his chairmanship because he was too moderate on climate change.

    Now, the Republicans want to throw away another potential Michigan chairman of the same committee because he is too moderate.

    Maybe the parties should actually try a Michigander in leadership for once?

    http://twitter.com/mikeingels

    by DingellDem on Sat Nov 20, 2010 at 08:51:04 PM PST

  •  They're not "Pro-Life" - they're "Forced Birth" (0+ / 0-)

    advocates. They care not at all about the mothers, and couldn't care less about the children they force into existence. Most "Pro-Lifers" also support the death penalty, and really the only reason they latched on to this self definition is to set up their opponents as therefore "anti-life". I cringe when I hear them use this term, just as I cringe when I hear Republicans talk about the "Democrat" party - its a calculated disrespect towards their opponents.

    We should stop freely giving them this unwarranted advantage in framing the narrative - and start describing them by their real position: "Forced birth" advocates.  

  •  Pitts is DANGEROUS (0+ / 0-)

    In case you needed proof, now you know why we fought so hard to beat him in PA-16.

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