The Stupak-Pitts Amendment was an amendment to the huge Affordable Healthcare for America Act, which is the house version of President Obama's healthcare reform bill. It was authored by Representatives Bart Stupak of Michigan, a Democrat, and Joseph Pitts, a Republican from Pennsylvania. The amendment deals with how abortion is covered under insurance plans, basically banning most abortion coverage from the mandated insurance that the bill would cover. The basic reason for the amendment was so that more conservative Democrats, or at least ones who had conservative constituencies, would be able to support the bill. Even with the amendment, the bill barely passed in the House.
The reaction to the amendment on the left was fairly hostile, although many people understood,at least on the utilitarian level, the need for the amendment. Having covered the facts, such as they are, I would like to do some editorializing on the leaps and gaps int he logic of the opponents of this amendment. One of my basic beliefs for the last decade is that most political and social positions in the United States start off from a belief, or a mythos, about personal autonomy. The basic belief of pro-choice people is that abortion is a matter of personal autonomy. I have seen ads, and read statements against the Stupak Amendment that spoke of it as a "ban" on abortion, or that it told women "what to do with their bodies".
But it doesn't do either of those things. What it does is limit the public support of abortion. The mandatory insurance that Affordable Healthcare act mandates is (whatever its utilitarian mandates), an intrusion into people's personal autonomy. What this act does is make it so people will not have to subsidize something that is morally abhorrent to them. (Although, why people who are against war or the death penalty are not allowed to not support those things via taxation is a legal and moral quandry left as an exercise for the reader). In other words, the basic pro-choice argument, which is based on a belief in personal autonomy, doesn't seem to have any way to oppose this argument. In fact, it would seem to support it.
I can't really think of too much more to say about this, although the myriad intricacies of how the insurance exchanges that will make up the Affordable Healthcare Act may shine more light on the problem. I am interested in the philosophical issue, and for those who are concerned with philosophical consistency, there seems to be no logical way to oppose this amendment.
But, as long as any issue possible can be made into an issue of personal autonomy (hating that phrase yet? you should be), it will be. And I don't really want to watch this movie: I know how it ends.