Lest we need any more evidence that Republicans and allies were merely using the unborn as a weapon against health care reform, have a look at this interview with Bart Stupak, the man who courageously took a consistent pro-life position, and instead was attacked and vilified by the so-called defenders of life. It got so nasty, he left politics. He even received death threats. But we all owe him a debt.
Recall that the House had a passed a version of health care reform that included statutory language on Hyde amendment protections (making it permanent). Now, Stupak tells us that the Senate Republicans deliberately pulled the rug on this…because they realized it was about to pass:
“But, to be honest with you, I’d been working with some of the Senate Republicans on trying to find some way to do a technical corrections bill. And actually, truth be known, the Republican leadership in the Senate pulled the rug out on me on that on Thursday night, the Thursday before that Monday [when the final vote occurred]. Most people don’t realize that.
Anyways, long story short, I always thought we would have some statutory language. It wasn’t until Thursday before the vote that when the Republican leadership on the Senate side said no go … and the reason was that it would pass.
Health care would have passed the Senate with Hyde language?
Yeah. It would fly though the Senate. So they weren’t interested in getting health care passed, they were interested in killing it. So every suggestion, every legislative proposal I had–and I knew I had to get to 60 votes in the Senate–I was led to believe up to that point in time they’d work with me. And they pulled the rug out that Thursday before. Remember, they went home that Thursday night, or that Friday night there. They weren’t around that weekend when we voted on the health care bill.
“He’s upheld that executive order. When he signed it, he said this was an ironclad commitment–those were his words, ‘ironclad commitment,’ and I’ll give him credit. He’s done it. I say that maybe with a little bit of surprise in my voice, I always thought he would, but there was so much outrage from the Bishops and Right to Life that, ‘How could we trust this president, cause he’s the–‘ I hate to use the word–but ‘the most pro-abortion president ever, and you can’t trust him.’ Well, I trusted him, and that trust was well founded”.
We all know why Right to Life opposed health care reform – because they’ve always opposed health care reform. The fact that the bishops went along with them was an enormous tactical mistake. It will take years to undo the damage (although thankfully, we are seeing signs of subtle backtracking). The biggest problem is that they created all kinds of confusion over the right and wrong reasons for opposing health care reform, allowing too many Catholics to feel they could adopt tea-party liberal individualist principles on health care. To add to this, a small but vocal number of bishops have bought into the narrow hard-right view of Obama (a fund-raising talking point parroted throughout the noise machine). They don’t seem to realize that supporting this worldview – the worldview of an older, whiter, increasingly marginalized, evangelical right – will only end up setting back the cause of life.