The immediate reaction to news that Pelosi will allow an up or down vote on the Stupak amendment prohibiting funding abortion in the healthcare bill is to view it as a victory. We should be careful what we wish for.

Pelosi clearly does not have enough votes to pass the bill without the pro-life Dems on board. If it fails, then most likely some of the pro-life Dems will say, “Oh well, we tried” and vote for final passage of the full bill, abortion and all.

But if the Stupak amendment passes, we are clearly not out of the woods. In all likelihood, Pelosi would be able to cajole the radical pro-abortion Dems in the house to go along for now. The Senate does not care about abortion so their version of the bill will not include language similar to the Stupak amendment. The Stupak language would then likely be stripped in the reconciliation process and sent back for final passage.

At that point, no more amendments are permitted. Having the cover of having voted against abortion in the up/down Stupak vote, Pelosi might very well have enough votes to get final passage, abortion and all. They will say things like “Well I voted against the funding of abortion. But that is not possible now. The bill is not perfect, but people are suffering and so I will vote for final passage.”

Clearly the Stupak amendment is a good thing as it is the only option we have now save killing the bill in its entirety. But even if it passes, federally funded abortion is not dead. The only way to prevent it is to kill the bill, once and for all.

If Stupak passes today, our work is just beginning.