It was all of, oh, a week ago that the public option was the major "line in the sand" imperiling health-care reform. To be sure, the public option is still a big problem just yesterday, Senator Joe Lieberman said that he'll filibuster any bill that includes it. But suddenly a new wedge issue capable of destroying the entire legislation has emerged: abortion. In order to wrangle up enough support for her historic health-care-reform bill on Saturday, Nancy Pelosi was forced to allow a vote on an anti-abortion amendment, which easily passed with the support of 64 pro-life Democrats. The Stupak-Pitts amendment, as it's known, not only prohibits the government's public option from covering abortions, but also prevents private insurers from covering abortions for people receiving government subsidies.
Now pro-choice representatives and lobby groups are circling the wagons to get the language removed when the House bill is merged in conference committee with the bill the Senate eventually passes. In fact, 41 Democratic congresspeople have signed a letter telling Pelosi that unless the amendment is stripped, they won't vote for final passage. Earlier today, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz said she was "confident that when [the bill] comes back from the conference committee that that language won't be there." But then what about all those pro-life Democrats who only voted for the bill on the condition of the inclusion of Stupak-Pitts? Maybe the GOP is onto something with their ongoing purge of moderates big tents are kind of a pain in the ass.