Although men and women tend to have similar attitudes towards abortion, women aged 18-49 are consistently the strongest supporters of reproductive freedom, and most of the net Democratic advantage among women comes from unmarried women without children.
In light of those facts, House Democrats who supported health care reform with the Stupak amendment intact need a reminder about some basic math about the gender gap from the past two House elections:
Year Gender (% of tot) Dem GOP Net Dem advantage
2006 Female (51%) 55% 43% +12
Male (49%) 50% 47% +3
2008 Female (53%) 56% 42% +14
Male (47%) 52% 46% +6
In 2006, 55% of Democratic support came from women and in 2008, 53% came from women. Democratic support for reproductive freedom doesn't explain the entire difference, but it surely plays a significant role and represents a fundamental difference between the Democratic and Republican parties.
From the Democratic Party's perspective, the Stupak amendment is electoral poison. As mcjoan wrote earlier, the amendment represents the most sweeping Federal restriction on abortion ever, and it would be crazy to think that won't impact support for the Democratic Party from pro-choice women.
The Stupak amendment effectively barring plans that provide abortion-related coverage from participating in the health insurance exchange. As such, it represents exactly the sort of government intervention in the doctor-patient relationship that Glenn Beck warns his audience about -- only this time, it's being used to achieve one of Beck's top goals: restricting access to a full range of reproductive health services.
At present, more than half of employer-based health plans cover some form of abortion-related services. Although the House health bill envisions a relatively modest health insurance exchange in the early years of the legislation, eventually the idea is that most if not all insurance will be purchased through the exchange, meaning abortion-related coverage will be eliminated for tens of millions of women, whether or not they receive government subsidies.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that stripping that coverage from millions of women would be a disaster for the Democratic Party. Without this defining difference between the Democratic and Republican parties, some women will undoubtedly drift towards the GOP, and others will drift away from politics. If Democrats think they can make up for those kinds of losses with anti-women social conservatives like the FRC, they are even bigger morons than we ever could have imagined.
Democrats are on the verge of throwing women under the bus. If they do, they had better get ready, because in upcoming election cycles, pro-choice women will almost certainly return the favor.