Pro-Life Advocates Upset Republicans May Vote Present on Stupak Amendment
by Steven Ertelt
November 6, 2009
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A handful of pro-life Republicans in Congress have a difference of opinion on legislative strategy and it has produced a friction that has blossomed during the debate on the pro-abortion health care bill. The difference concerns whether the Stupak Amendment could result in helping the health care bill.
The pro-life movement has been fighting for months to get language included in the health care reform bill to make sure it does not fund abortions through the public option and the affordability credits.
After refusing pro-life Rep. Bart Stupak a vote on his amendment to stop abortion funding, Speaker Nancy Pelosi caved in on Friday night and allowed a vote today because enough pro-life and moderate Democrats threatened to defect and vote against the bill.
Pelosi allowed the vote but, during the debate today, House Democrats refused to say whether they would keep the Stupak amendment in the bill as it moves along in the process, even if it is approved.
Sensing that and worrying that adding the amendment would allow more votes on the bill itself from pro-life Democrats who would otherwise vote against it should it lack the Stupak amendment, some pro-life Republicans plan to vote "present" on the Stupak amendment.
Rep. John Shadegg, an Arizona Republican who is pro-life, has been emailing back and forth today about the amendment vote and is the leading lawmaker who may vote present. He even signed a letter calling on Congress to allow the Stupak amendment vote.
He disagrees with groups like the Family Research Council and Americans United for Life who have said they will score any present votes as a no vote against the pro-life amendment.
Shadegg told Politico this afternoon that this is a bad call for pro-life organizations and he doesn’t want to give a vote away to pro-life groups that he believes would help ensure passage of the health care reform bill.
(Nancy) Pelosi is speaker and shes pro abortion every minute of every hour of every day as speaker, Shadegg said. This is a vote to help her move the bill forward.
This is a gut-wrenching issue for a lot of people, Shadegg said. But I won’t support Pelosis bill, which is not pro-life at all.
Shadegg said he expected four other pro-life Republicans to go along with voting present on the amendment — which could jeopardize passage of the Stupak amendment and keep abortion funding in the bill.
National Right to Life legislative director Douglas Johnson told LifeNews.com he is very disappointed to hear some pro-life members will vote present. His group sent a letter to every Republican member of the House urging a yes vote on the Stupak amendment.
"The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), its state affiliates, and many other pro-life groups — including major religious bodies — have worked hard for months to win adoption of the amendment to remove federal funding of abortion from the health care legislation," the letter said.
He noted that 158 republicans signed a letter to Pelosi calling for the vote.
"If lawmakers who claim the label of ‘pro-life’ now were to betray past commitments and withhold support from the amendment to remove government funding of abortion from the health care bill, by voting ‘present,’ resulting in the defeat of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, it would be a day that would live in infamy," the Right to Life letter continued.
Politico indicated Republican Reps. Phil Gingrey, Steve King and Scott Garrett are likely to vote present.
Later, Gingrey told Weekly Standard that he will vote for the Stupak amendment, saying he considered voting present when "some of my most respected colleagues had brought up the possibility of a present vote on the Stupak vote thinking what can we do to stop this bill."
But Gingrey cited concerns about what he district residents would think if he voted against a pro-life amendment to stop abortion funding.
Other pro-life groups informed LifeNews.com that if Republicans killed the Stupak amendment, it would take abortion funding off the table in the 2010 elections.
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