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For Obama, Abortion Proves Not So Much a Right as a Bargaining Chip

(photo: omye)

At the end of the health care debate, when Obama was desperate to get the final bill passed in the House, he agreed to make a deal with Bart Stupak (D-MI) on the issue of abortion, by offering an executive order that restricted the availability of insurance coverage for reproductive health. The right to abortion for many in need was traded away as a bargaining chip to get that final bill passed.

Last week, as part of the negotiations to get a budget for the rest of fiscal year 2011, President Obama again decided to use abortion rights as a bargaining chip to secure a final deal. To get Republicans to agree to a compromise, Obama promised to support a legislative rider which would prevent the District of Colombia from using its own tax revenue to fund abortion, despite the opposition of the District’s locally elected government.

Dealing like this only once to pass what the president considered his hallmark legislative achievement would seem unusual, but could be rationalized as an isolated incident. But doing it again, and to get agreement on something as mundane as a few months of stopgap funding for the federal government seems to indicate a pattern–a pattern I’m sure abortion opponents have noticed and are already working to exploit further in the upcoming legislative fights.

To a pro-choice advocate, this most recent precedent should be highly concerning.

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For Obama, Abortion Proves Not So Much a Right as a Bargaining Chip

At the end of the health care debate, when Obama was desperate to get the final bill passed in the House, he agreed to make a deal with Bart Stupak (D-MI) on the issue of abortion, by offering an executive order that restricted the availability of insurance coverage for reproductive health. The right to abortion for many in need was traded away as a bargaining chip to get that final bill passed.

Last week, as part of the negotiations to get a budget for the rest of fiscal year 2011, President Obama again decided to use abortion rights as a bargaining chip to secure a final deal. To get Republicans to agree to a compromise, Obama promised to support a legislative rider which would prevent the District of Colombia from using its own tax revenue to fund abortion, despite the opposition of the District’s locally elected government.

Dealing like this only once to pass what the president considered his hallmark legislative achievement would seem unusual, but could be rationalized as an isolated incident. But doing it again, and to get agreement on something as mundane as a few months of stopgap funding for the federal government seems to indicate a pattern–a pattern I’m sure abortion opponents have noticed and are already working to exploit further in the upcoming legislative fights.

To a pro-choice advocate, this most recent precedent should be highly concerning.

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is now living in the Washington DC area. He created a politics and policy blog, The Walker Report (http://jwalkerreport.blogspot.com/).