House Democrats are squaring off over abortion — with 40 pro-life Democrats threatening to vote against health-care reform if the anti-abortion "[Bart] Stupak amendment" is stripped from the final bill, and 41 pro-choice representatives saying they'll vote "no" if the amendment stays in. President Obama has told Congress it has to find wording both sides can accept, saying: "This is a health-care bill, not an abortion bill." Will the abortion fight derail health-care reform? (watch Obama praise the House health-care reform bill)
Pro-choicers could sink the bill: The politics of passing health-care reform just got a lot tougher, says Greg Sargent in The Plum Line. Forty-one Democrats — enough to kill the bill -- will vote "no" if the final wording further restricts women's right to choose. Rep. Bart Stupak's amendment would "sharply curtail the availability of abortions" — which many insurance plans now cover — so the war will only intensify.
"Obtained: In letter to Pelosi, 41 House Dems pledge to vote against bill with anti-abortion amendment"
Democrats lose either way: Pro-choice lawmakers are vowing to strip the Stupak amendment language from the bill, says John McCormack in The Weekly Standard. But if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi does so, effectively "double-[crossing] the pro-life Democrats," she'll almost certainly lose at least 3 crucial votes. "So Democrats are left playing a game of chicken."
"Killing the Stupak amendment wouldn't have killed the bill"
Progressives can turn Stupak to their advantage: Liberals face "a hellish choice," says M.S. Bellows Jr. in The Huffington Post. They'll either get "healthcare reform that unacceptably restricts women's reproductive rights, or no healthcare at all." Best strategy: Try to pass the bill, then play hardball. In certain scenarios, they might be able to remove the "odious Stupak amendment in 2011," after health-care reform is already in force.
"Coughing up Stupak's 'morning-after' poison pill"
MORE OF THE WEEK'S COVERAGE OF HEALTH-CARE REFORM: