In an interview with the New York Times, Rep. Bart Stupak says that pro-life Democrats were once overlooked, but no more. He also asserted that there are 10 or 11 pro-life Democrats willing to vote against the final bill, like the Senate version, does not prohibit federal funds for abortion.
But Democratic control of the House carries a paradox: because the party expanded by winning what had been Republican districts, it has more members who oppose federal financing for abortions and restrictions on guns. Mr. Stupak’s measure on abortion passed the House with the support of 64 Democrats.
“Before, when we talked about pro-life Democrats, you’d get a snicker and a laugh,” he said. “We were just always overlooked. We’re not overlooked anymore.”
Now the disagreement over abortion financing has become a game of chicken, with Mr. Stupak saying he and 10 or 11 others, whom he would not name, will vote against a final bill that does not meet his standards, and some backers of abortion rights threatening to do the same in what is expected to be a close vote.
Earlier in this process Rep. Stupak suggested that as long as he got to vote his conscience up or down, he might still support the bill. Now he says no way.
Last fall, Mr. Stupak told constituents that even if his amendment failed, he would still vote yes on the overall health care legislation — he merely wanted to vote his conscience first. Now he says that statement applied only to the bill’s early version.
“You fight for a principle you’ve believed in your whole life, then you fold up the tent?” he said.
It seems doubtful whether ten or eleven pro-life Democrats can still derail this bill. While the House version only passed by 2 votes with the support of pro-life Democrats, it is likely that Speaker Pelosi allowed other Democrats from conservative areas to vote against it. With the Stupak Eleven voting against the final bill they will no longer have that luxury. Luxury or not, we can count on Madame Pelosi to do all the arm twisting necessary to get the votes she needs, even if those representatives pay the price in November.
On a final note about the interview, Stupak expressed the frustration that pro-life Democrats feel as odd men out saying, “We’re members without a party, Democrats are mad at you, and Republicans don’t trust you.”
Well, being pro-life in the party of death will have its frustrations.