Defeat Bart Stupak And Joseph Pitts And Build A Movement In Their Districts
Connie & Lois at the Women's Campaign Forum last week
-by Mary Jean Collins
Bart Stupak Democrat (MI-1) clearly wants to be remembered as the Democrat who destroyed health care reform proposed by a Democratic President and Congress. Together with Republican Joseph Pitts (PA-16) he offered the amendment to the Affordable Health Care Act that used the health reform effort to extend the Hyde prohibition on abortion funding to restrict women’s ability to secure abortion coverage with their own funds under the reform bill. The amendment to the Act passed on November 7, 2009 by a vote of 240-194 with 64 Democrats and all Republicans voting for the restrictive language.
The Amendment supporters allege their intention is only to extend the Hyde Amendment policy which prohibits federal money for abortion services. In reality, the amendment restricts private insurance from providing abortion services in their policies under either a public option or exchanges. So Stupak and Pitts are using the Health Care Act intended to address need for health care for all Americans, to advance a narrow anti-choice agenda.
The Senate rejected the Stupak-Pitts language and put in a barely tolerable substitute which pro-choice Senate and House members have reluctantly supported in order to pass the overall bill. Now Bart Stupak is again threatening to kill the reform and refusing to vote for the Senate version. This is intolerable and goes beyond a member supporting a strongly held position. All the parties fighting for health care over the last year have made compromises in order to secure the best bill possible. All progressives who support the flawed bill have given up very strongly held values to come to a compromise that will address the immoral lack of health care in the US. Mr. Stupak is holding the Bill and his party hostage to his own deeply flawed view.
Pitts and Stupak opportunity in 2010
Stupak and Pitts provide an electoral opportunity for holding accountable legislators in both parties for their anti-choice actions and their opposition to health care reform.
We are very fortunate to have progressive candidates willing to take on Stupak and Pitts in 2010. Connie Saltonstall just declared her candidacy last Friday in Michigan 1 and Lois Herr is hard at work in PA 16. Both these districts are challenging to win. Why should we let these legislators get by year after year voting against our interests without even challenge them? Particularly as Democrats have won more districts in Republican majority districts, the need for organizing by progressives in these districts has become even more critical. One of the best ways to identify and organize progressives in conservative areas is to run candidates who can gain respect and will attract hard working progressives and ordinary citizens to their campaigns. These candidates need our support and resources.
Connie Saltonstall is an experienced and qualified public servant who has served in various capacities in Michigan. She is deeply committed to health care and the protection of a woman’s right to choose. She is responding to a deep dissatisfaction with Rep. Stupak putting his own anti-choice concerns ahead of the needs of the district and the nation. Tomorrow she will be live-blogging with Blue America at Crooks and Liars (2pm, est); please go over and meet her yourself. Meanwhile if you'd like to help elect Connie to the seat Stupak holds, you can contribute to her campaign at the Blue America page.
Joe Pitts was the co-sponsor of the anti-choice amendment and is a leader in Congress pushing restrictions on abortion in all areas of policy.
Joe Pitts is in his 7th term representing the 16th District of Pennsylvania. He is active in the fundamentalist group described in Jeff Sharlet’s book The Family. He has a right wing record on everything we care about. Lois Herr is Pitt’s opponent in PA-16. Lois is a long-time friend. I’ve known her for 30 years as an activist when she organized women inside A T & T for fair policies for women employees. She wrote a book about that experience and the larger struggle against A T & T called Women, Power & AT & T. Lois was born and raised in her district. Lois has been a farmer, business leader and has always been a passionate progressive.
Lois ran for the Pitts congressional seat the first time in 2004. That year Joe Pitts received 64.4 % of the vote, in 2008 he was down to 55.9. In 2004 Kerry lost the district by 24 points, in 2008 President Obama lost by 3 points. The impact of having congressional campaigns that are real in this district have organized the progressives in the district. Democratic Party registration in the district has increased 30%. None of this would have happened without the willingness of progressive candidates to put themselves forward. Lois is fighting hard to win. She needs money and volunteers to run a successful campaign. You can learn a lot more about her and her campaign here at her website. And you can donate here at ActBlue.
I hope we can show these candidates we appreciate their courage and get them the resources they need to lead and to organize and to win.