Party squelches pro-life Democrats

Washington Post columnist Melinda Henneberger on pro-life Democrats trying to get a hearing at the platform committee but getting shot down.  She comes up with an interesting parallel, that abortion is to Democrats what gun rights are to Republicans, an untouchable issue that allows for no compromise:

Democratic dissenters on the issue of abortion have made their case to the platform committee, arguing that the party should change its language enough to allow for some diversity of opinion on the matter and return to the “big tent” approach of the Clinton years.

The effort is probably doomed; NARAL Pro-Choice America President Nancy Keenan is on the committee, and those pushing for the change were happy just to get to testify; they weren’t even allowed to do that four years ago.

This time around, Janet Robert, who founded Minnesota’s progressive talk radio station AM 950, with talkers such as Ed Schultz and Thom Hartmann, was given seven minutes to make the case, and she used it to argue that the party simply cannot win back Congress without Democrats who differ from the ’08 platform on this one issue. She cited a slew of stats, including a Gallup poll from last year in which 44 percent of Democrats said abortion should only be legal “in a few circumstances.”

The plank they want to rewrite says the party “unequivocally” supports Roe v. Wade and spells out that “we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.” .  . .

There’s no question that Democrats won the House in ’06 by running more moderate candidates in districts the party would otherwise have lost to Republicans.

But the abortion rights lobby writes big checks and wields such unlimited power that I’ve long thought abortion rights have become to the Democrats what the Second Amendment is to Republicans — who are so terrified of the “slippery slope” that even the most common-sense gun restrictions are out of the question. Nobody wants to buck the lobby with bucks.

via Democratic abortion foes push for change in platform – She The People – The Washington Post.

The last time Democrats won big, they courted social conservatives and ran some moderate candidates.  Another theme of this column is that Democrats aren’t going to do that this time.

Democrats claim to be the party of compassion and social justice, championing the marginalized and supporting the little guy.  I can’t take that seriously as long as they so uncritically support abortion.  What is so “liberal” about being for abortion?  Women’s rights?  But isn’t that more of a libertarian way of thinking, the sort of individualist mindset that leftists condemn when they see it in conservatives?  At any rate, I can respect pro-life liberals, when you can find them, as being generally consistent in their principles.  But pro-abortion liberals are sort of like those early Americans who believed passionately in freedom, despite their glaring inconsistency of also believing even more passionately in slavery.

To stupak

Bart Stupak, the pro-life Democratic congressman from Michigan, went from a hero to a goat in a single moment.  With his blocking of the health care reform bill unless it included anti-abortion provisions, pro-lifers were thinking they too might be able to become Democrats after all.  But then came his press conference in which he agreed to accept the bill on the basis of a presidential executive order saying tax money will not be used to pay for abortions, something that can’t be enforced in the courts, can be changed at will, and doesn’t matter anyway since segregating money means as little as  putting it in your right pocket rather than your left.  So now BOTH pro-lifers AND pro-abortioners are mad at him.  The whole performance inspired Kathleen Parker, who is no right-winger, to coin a new word:

Stupak.

Etymology: Eponym for Rep. Bart Stupak.

Function: verb

1: In a legislative process, to obstruct passage of a proposed law on the basis of a moral principle (i.e., protecting the unborn), accumulating power in the process, then at a key moment surrendering in exchange for a fig leaf, the size of which varies according to the degree of emasculation of said legislator and/or as a reflection of just how stupid people are presumed to be. (Slang: backstabber.)

Poor Bart Stupak. The man tried to be a hero for the unborn, and then, when all the power of the moment was in his frail human hands, he dropped the baby. He genuflected when he should have dug in his heels and gave it up for a meaningless executive order.

Now, in the wake of his decision to vote for a health-care bill that expands public funding for abortion, he is vilified and will forever be remembered as the guy who Stupaked health-care reform and the pro-life movement. . . .

Stupak’s clumsy fall from grace is a lesson in human frailty. In a matter of hours, he went from representing the majority of Americans who don’t want public money spent on abortion to leading the army on the other side.

Something must have gone bump in the night.

Whatever it was, demonizing Stupak seems excessive and redundant given punishments to come. Already he has lost a speaking invitation to the Illinois Catholic Prayer Breakfast next month. His political future, otherwise, may have been foretold by a late-night anecdote.

After the Sunday vote, a group of Democrats, including Stupak, gathered in a pub to celebrate. In a biblical moment, New York Rep. Anthony Weiner was spotted planting a big kiss on Stupak’s cheek.

To a Catholic man well versed in the Gospel, this is not a comforting gesture.

via Kathleen Parker – Stupak’s fall from pro-life grace – washingtonpost.com.

Use the verb “stupak” in a sentence to bring up other examples of people standing up for principle only to cave when it mattered most.

do-nothing Republicans vs. pro-life Democrats

Pro-life activist Marjorie Dannenfelser serves notice on the Republican party, which increasingly seems to be trying to play down the abortion issue.  In the meantime, the lawmakers who are stepping up to fight abortion are pro-life Democrats such as Rep. Bart Stupak, who is blocking the health care bill unless it forbids funding for abortion.

She points out that pro-lifers have been an important part of the Republican base, but they are being taken for granted.  She cites statistics that as many as 75% of Americans, including big majorities in Democratic districts, oppose using federal money to pay for abortion.  But Republicans aren’t taking advantage of this opening.  She indicates that her group will be supporting pro-life Democrats.

via If Republicans keep ignoring abortion, they’ll lose in the midterm elections – washingtonpost.com.

Are you a single-issue pro-life voter?  What would it take for you to switch to the Democratic party?

Or is the author exaggerating the problem in saying that Republicans are more interested now in economic issues and Tea Party activism?   Aren’t most Tea Party activists also pro-life?

Democrat pro-lifers taking a stand

Not all pro-lifers are Republicans and not all pro-lifers are conservatives.  Twelve pro-life DEMOCRATS in Congress are stepping up.  They say they are willing to kill the health care bill if it would fund abortions.

A dozen House of Representatives Democrats opposed to abortion are willing to kill President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform plan unless it satisfies their demand for language barring the procedure, Representative Bart Stupak said on Thursday.

“Yes. We’re prepared to take responsibility,” Stupak said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” when asked if he and his 11 Democratic allies were willing to accept the consequences for bringing down healthcare reform over abortion.

“Let’;s face it. I want to see healthcare. But we’re not going to bypass the principles of belief that we feel strongly about,” he said.

via UPDATE 2-US Democrats would kill healthcare over abortion | Reuters.

Abortion funding ban may stand in Health Care Reform bill

Columnist E.J. Dionne is a liberal Democrat and a Catholic. He says that the ban on abortion funding in both the public and the private insurance companies that was added to the health care reform bill may stand, and if it does, it would be worth it:

For some years, Democrats have denounced parodies that cast their party as utterly closed to the views of those who oppose abortion. Last weekend, Democrats proved conclusively that they are, indeed, a big tent — and many in the ranks are furious.

From the outraged comments of the abortion-rights movement, you'd think that Rep. Bart Stupak's amendment to the House version of the health-care bill would all but overturn Roe v. Wade.

No, it wouldn't. The Michigan Democrat's measure — passed 240 to 194, with 64 Democrats voting yes — would prohibit abortion coverage in the public option and bar any federal subsidies for plans that included abortion purchased on the new insurance exchanges.

Stupak argues that the federal government has stayed out of the business of financing abortion since passage of the Hyde Amendment in 1976 and that none of the policies available on the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program covers elective abortion. The structures that reform would create, he says, should carry the same restrictions, which do not apply in cases involving rape or incest or when a mother's life is in danger.

Supporters of abortion rights counter that, at the very least, individuals who pay part of the cost of their policies should be allowed to choose abortion coverage.

Whatever else is true, Stupak's amendment is unlikely to have a significant effect on the availability of abortion. And most abortions are not paid for through health insurance. The Guttmacher Institute, for example, reported that only 13 percent of abortions in 2001 were directly billed by providers to insurance companies — although the institute has cautioned that the proportion of women whose abortions were covered by insurance could be higher because the figure did not include those "who obtain reimbursement from their insurance company themselves." . . . .

But a key group of Democrats who supported the rest of the House bill (roughly 10 by the best count I have been able to get) was still not satisfied, partly because the Roman Catholic bishops were not satisfied. These Democrats turned out to be essential on a bill that ultimately passed by five votes.

Last Friday night, Stupak put forward a final compromise to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that would have prohibited abortion coverage in the public plan but would have allowed an annual vote on the abortion ban for the private plans. Pro-choice Democrats rejected this, and the stronger version of Stupak's proposal then passed.

What happens now? Democratic supporters of abortion rights need to accept that their House majority depends on a large cadre of antiabortion colleagues. They can denounce that reality or they can learn to live with it. . . .

And if the Senate forces a change in the Stupak language, one obvious approach would involve a ban on abortion in the public plan — if such an option survives — and the application of Ellsworth's rules to the private policies sold in the insurance exchange. The alternative would be Stupak's original compromise offer to Pelosi. There are not many other options.

The truth is that even with the Stupak restrictions, health-care reform would leave millions of Americans far better off than they are now — including millions of women. This skirmish over abortion cannot be allowed to destroy the opportunity to extend coverage to 35 million Americans. Killing health-care reform would be bad for choice — and very bad for the right to life.

So he says. At any rate, it’s time to give the small, hard-pressed, marginalized pro-life Democrats some credit.


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