The Stupak amendment has touched off a furious argument among Democratic politicians and elites--one that could tank the entire health care reform project if it's not resolved by the time legislation comes up for a final vote in the House.
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For the most part, the argument has been about justice. The Stupak amendment would forbid anybody who receives new government health insurance subsidies from buying policies that cover abortion. So why should women's health care be treated differently than other kinds of health care? Is it fair to prevent women, forced into the health care market, from buying any insurance policy she wants, even if they have some government assistance?
But somewhat less prominently, these same combatants have been at odds about what the practical effect of the Stupak amendment would actually be. There's substantial lack of clarity on that score--many say it's likely that there will be no abortion coverage in the exchange at all, and others hypothesize that, over time, the norms in the exchange will come to dominate the norms across the insurance market. At this point, that's all theoretical. But there is at least some data on the immediate practical implications of the Stupak amendment: It will, at least, directly and immediately impact a small, but growing number of poor and middle-class women.