2010: Take Back America: A Battle Plan

In their seventh co-written book, husband-wife team Dick Morris and Eileen McGann give their take on the Obama administration (summary: lots of debt, socialism run rampant), which Democrats should be targeted by Republicans in the 2010 congressional races, and the best way to campaign against them.

Newly Passed 'Fetal Pain' Bill in Nebraska Is a Big Deal

The Nebraska Legislature has passed a law barring abortions after 20 weeks because of the possibility that the fetus could feel pain. The law, approved by the state legislature earlier today and expected to be signed by Gov. Dave Heineman, is a landmark in that it directly challenges one of the key tenets of Roe v. Wade: the viability standard. In Roe, the Supreme Court recognized viability—the point at which the fetus can live outside the womb—as the point at which states have the right to...

The New Health-Care Fight: Abortion Coverage in State Exchanges

While the congressional fight over health-care reform has wrapped up and legislators moved on, a new, state-level battle over abortion coverage has just begun. The fight comes courtesy of Section 1303 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (page 779 here), which reiterates states' rights to regulate abortion coverage among their insurers. The key sentence: "A state may elect to prohibit abortion coverage in qualified health plans offered through an Exchange in such State if such...

Unsurprisingly, Stupak Won't Seek Reelection

Earlier this morning, The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder broke news that Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak will retire, which has since been confirmed by the Associated Press. As followers of the health-care debate now know well, Stupak was the representative who pushed for stringent abortion language in the health-care bill. His departure comes in the face of entreaties from Democrat leaders, including Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), encouraging the nine-term Democrat to have another go...

Teen Birthrate Declines: Good News Nationally, Still Bad News Globally

  The teen birthrate declined 2 percent in 2008, according to new, preliminary data released by the CDC. The new number is a welcome relief for public-health officials: between 2006 and 2008, the teen birthrate had increased 4 percent, halting a decades-long trend of dropping adolescent childbearing through the 1990s and early 2000s.What caused this drop in teen births is difficult to say but will likely be subject to numerous spins in the coming days. The National Abstinence Education...

Not the 'Best-Covered' Story, But Not Bad Either

A great, thought-provoking Trudy Lieberman piece in the Columbia Journalism Review today on whether The New Republic's Harold Pollack is accurate in calling "Press coverage of health care reform … the most careful, most thorough, and most effective reporting of any major story, ever." Lieberman's basic point: while there has been a whole lot of reporting on health-care reform, it hasn't necessarily left Americans more informed. Which means that we, as reporters, have not done a particularly...

16,500 'Armed Bureaucrats' Enforce Health-Care Reform

It was a high figure that I heard again and again covering health-care reform this past week: 16,500. That was the number of "bureaucrats" or "IRS agents" that numerous Republicans said would be necessary to enforce the individual mandate—basically, to make sure that Americans comply with the law to carry health insurance. The number struck me as high but potentially plausible, until the claims started getting really weird. Like when Ron Paul (R-Texas) claimed that not only were 16,500 new...

Anti-Abortion-Rights Activists Make Smart Rhetorical Moves In Georgia, Nebraska

Late last week, the Georgia Senate approved a bill barring gender- and race-specific abortions. If it becomes law, the bill, dubbed The Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, would criminalize a person who performs an abortion "with the intent to prevent an unborn child from being born based upon race, color or gender of the child or the race or color of either parent of that child."This comes on the heels of another proposed abortion law, this one in Nebraska, that would bar abortions past 20...

Enroll America Has the Right Approach to Health-Care Implementation

Implementing large-scale health-care reform is really, really difficult. As I wrote in a story today, it requires "a sweeping outreach effort alongside meticulous attention to details, and they stumble without both key elements in place."  But one nonprofit has already decided to take on the challenge: introducing Enroll America. "We want to make sure everybody gets enrolled," says Ron Pollack, the nonprofit's founder and current head of Families USA, a health-care-reform advocacy group. "This...

On DNC Thank-You List, Stupak Noticeably Absent

While one House vote still stands between health-care reform and its final passage, the Democratic National Committee is wasting no time thanking vulnerable members of Congress who stuck with the party—and going after Republicans who stood in its way. Starting today, the Dems are showing 35 television and radio ads to call out or congratulate members of Congress who all seem to have one thing in common: a challenging 2010 election in their future. Noticeably absent from the list, however, is...

Do Abortion-Rights Supporters Deserve 'Payback'?

Abortion-rights supporters arguably threw up a white flag in health-care reform, deciding not to hold up the entire bill on their specific issue. And that, Katha Pollitt argues over at The Nation, means that women's-rights groups deserve payback. "You can call prochoice leaders hypocritical or cowardly or feeble or excessively deferential to the president's agenda. But one thing you can't call them is selfishly obsessed with their own political purity," she writes in the...

The Last House Vote Is Just the Beginning of Reconciliation

Nancy Pelosi pulled it off: she got 219 House Democrats to pass the Senate's health-care-reform bill and, with the stroke of President Obama's pen, health care-reform will move from bill to law.Except, not quite. While the House vote is a giant step forward—without it, health-care reform would be dead—it is by no means the last vote. The Senate still has one more task ahead of it: passing the reconciliation sidecar that the House also passed tonight with 220 votes. Without it, the...

Stupak's Last Stand

Michigan Rep. Bart Stupak arguably saved health-care reform, agreeing to sign on to the bill and defend his decision on the House floor, in the face of jeers from Republican opponents and a heckler who seemed to have called him "baby killer." In saving reform, Stupak looks to have put his House seat in serious jeopardy. The Family Research Council, a strong anti-abortion-rights group, came out moments ago with the news that it's gunning for his seat. From the FRC, which calls out Stupak...

Executive Order Wins With Stupak, Loses With Anti-Abortion-Rights Groups

  Moments ago, Rep. Bart Stupak signed on to support health-care reform after the president issued an executive order, reiterating that the bill would not allow for public funding of abortion. That won over Stupak and many others who oppose abortion, but has done little to sway groups that oppose abortion rights. National Right to Life, Americans United for Life, the Family Research Council, and the Susan B. Anthony List have all come out against the executive-order strategy. Three of Stupak's...

The Abortion Deal That Saved Health Care: What's in It?

After two days of back and forth, we finally have a definitive word on Bart Stupak: he's a yes and the final votes for health-care reform have been clinched. Stupak announced at a press conference moments ago that he will support the health-care-reform bill after working with the White House on an executive order that bars the use of federal funding in abortion coverage. I just read through the agreement (available here) and, from what I can tell, it's basically a guarantee that the Nelson...

Stupak Brought Down By Congressional Maneuver?

Fifteen hours in the health care reform debate is beginning to feel like a lifetime. Last night, doom-and-gloom seemed eminent for abortion rights supporters, filing out of Pelosi's office 'livid' and Bart Stupak planning a press conference for the next morning. All signs pointed towards Stupak's restrictive abortion language making a come back. But the sun rose on a completely different set of tea leaves: Stupak's press conference postponed indefinitely and...

Last-Minute Abortion Deal in the Works?

Yesterday, I predicted the abortion issue would end as the epic battle that never was. In the appropriately unpredictable nature of the abortion issue in health-care reform, turns out I could be completely wrong. From what I can gather, there is some deal currently in the works with Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) and a few of his colleagues, who are indeed holding the line on their abortion language. Here's what we know, via Jeffrey Young and Molly Hooper over at The Hill: a number of abortion-rights...

'Pro-Life' or 'Anti-Abortion Rights'? Journalists, Abortion, and Why Word Choice Matters

In addition to attempting to decipher the many twists and turns that are the Stupak saga, one of the biggest challenges in covering abortion in health-care reform has been finding the best words to describe those who support or oppose abortion rights. NPR's omsbudsman Alicia Shepard has an interesting, inside look at how her news organization has dealt with the issue—and, in the process, disappointed listeners. From Shepard: Martha Hamilton winces when she hears an NPR correspondent describe...

Nebraska Opens a Debate on 'Fetal Pain'

Nebraska has long played a pivotal role in the national abortion battle, mounting the first defense of the "partial birth" ban before the Supreme Court in 2000. Now the legislature is pushing another first-of-its-kind restriction—this time on procedures that cause "fetal pain." Currently the only abortion bans that have been deemed constitutional are based on viability, the point at which the fetus can live outside the womb (about 24 weeks). This bill, introduced last month, would set a new...

Bart Stupak: No William Wallace

Abortion opponents were hoping that Bart Stupak's final stand on abortion would look something like this (video care of Catholic Vote): In the end, though, signs are pointing toward more of a retreat than a battle. Yesterday, Rep. Dale Kildee, Democrat of Michigan and a strong opponent of abortion, came out in support of health-care reform with the Nelson language (he was among the 12 Democrats on House Minority Whip Eric Cantor's list of Democrats who would oppose health-care reform because of...

Obama to Talk Health Care on Fox But Conservatives Won't Be Swayed

Obama will take to Fox News tonight to talk health-care reform. "Many of the falsehoods and myths about health reform gained traction with Glenn Beck and others on Fox, so the president is returning to the scene of the crime to make the final sale," a White House official explained to Politico earlier today. It sounds like a sensible calculation: dismantle arguments about government takeovers and death panels, up popular support. In fact, NEWSWEEK tested out that idea in our most recent poll....

Today in Actually Useful News: Universal Health Care and Lower Abortion Rates

The past week of news in abortion and health-care reform has been, frankly, pretty useless. The narrative changed every day—there was a compromise, then there wasn't. Leaders were working out a deal with Stupak, now they're not. Even after religiously reading the "Stupak" Google Alert I receive every day, I still have no idea what abortion language will appear in the final bill. It depends on too many unknowns: how many representatives plan to vote with Stupak (estimates have ranged from 3 to...

NYT Urges Abortion-Rights Supporters to 'Make Their Voices Heard.' The Real Question: What Should They Be Saying?

"Americans who support women's reproductive rights need to make their voices heard," The New York Times editorial opined yesterday. Noting the number of state legislatures debating bills that would significantly limit a woman's access to abortion—notably Utah's ban on "illegal abortions" and the proposed pre-viability ban in Nebraska—the Times editorial board urged supporters of abortion rights to take a more active role in the debate. As a reporter who watches the abortion-rights movement...

Who Administered Obama's Physical? Not Sharon Begley

Via Politico's Live Pulse, the Archives of Internal Medicine has a great editorial this week calling attention to Obama's bad example setting in his most recent physical (no, not that whole smoking thing). Rita Redberg of the University of California, San Francisco, is dismayed that Obama received "2 cutting edge, expensive diagnostic tests that exposed him to a radiation risk while likely providing no benefit to his care." The culprits: a CT scan for coronary calcium (the radiation of...

Poll: Why Abortion Stays Central in Health-Care Debate, Even When We Don't Want It To

The Women Donors Network and Communications Consortium Media Center came out with some great polling today that really drives home why abortion has become such a central issue in health-care reform, even when the vast majority of us think it should not be. Take a look at these two graphs: Take away, graph No. 1: No one wants abortion to hold up health-care reform. Eighty-nine percent of those surveyed agree there should be a much broader discussion. These high numbers cut across gender, party...

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