Some Pro-Life Democrats Flinch on Pro-Abortion Health Care, Pelosi Pushes On

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 12, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Some Pro-Life Democrats Flinch on Pro-Abortion Health Care, Pelosi Pushes On

by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 12
, 2010

Washington, DC ( — Some pro-life Democrats appear to be weakening on their stance on the pro-abortion Senate health care bill. This comes as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and top Democrats push ahead with their plan to pass the legislation and its abortion funding without making any changes to it.

Four pro-life Democrats who are among those pro-life groups are hoping will stand strong by voting against the pro-abortion health care bill appear to be weakening.

They are likely members of the Stupak dozen, considered to be 12 Democrats who voted for the House version of the bill who would likely vote against the Senate measure because it funds and promotes abortion.

Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan is the de facto leader of the pro-life Democrats and has not named them, but some members thought to be a part of his coalition are issuing comments that are causing concerns for pro-life groups.

Rep. Charlie Wilson, an Ohio Democrat said Thursday, according to a Congressional Quarterly report, that he is willing to consider voting for the Senate bill. He reportedly indicated that while he prefers stronger language banning abortion funding, not changing the funding will not make it so he can’t vote for the measure.

“I’m opposed to abortion, and I think the language in there is pretty clear that it is not something that pays for abortion,” he said, despite clear analysis from pro-life groups that it funds and promotes abortions.

Earlier this week, Rep. Dale Kildee of Michigan told Roll Call he could support the Senate bill, but pro-life groups later said he had not made such a commitment. CQ indicates he is still willing to consider supporting the Senate bill even without stopping abortion funding.

Meanwhile, Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio is another pro-life Democrat who is wavering.

She told CQ she wants the abortion funding stopped but would not say she will not vote against the Senate bill if that doesn’t happen: “I would not easily give over my vote for the bill” if changes are not made, she said.

And CQ indicates John Schadl, a spokesman for rep. James Oberstar of Minnesota, left the door open for him to vote for the Senate bill, saying, “He hasn’t ruled out anything, including voting for the Senate bill if that’s an interim step to a better compromise."

But that would be surprising given thathe told Congressional Quarterly on February 24 "I will not vote for a health care bill that doesn’t have the House abortion language in it."

On the other side, some pro-life Democrats thought to be associated with Stupak are standing firm, including Indiana Rep. Joe Donnelly, who said he could not vote for the Senate bill unless abortion funding was changed.

Also, Rep. Daniel Lipinski of Illinois has remained solidly against the Senate bill unless abortion funding is dropped.

“I think there has to be a realization among leadership that they need to pick up votes, and obviously the abortion issue is a big stumbling block,” Lipinski said Thursday.

As reported Thursday, both Pelosi and pro-abortion Rep. Henry Waxman, a California Democrat who is one of the top health care negotiators, said Democrats are moving ahead and think they have the votes without the help of the Stupak pro-life Democrats.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer also confirmed that line of thought.

“I don’t know that we’ve made a collective judgment on it, but I think his comments are accurate," Hoyer said, according to Roll Call, about Waxman’s remarks.

“We’re working at it and I think the answer is yes, I think we can" get the votes without the pro-life Democrats, Hoyer added.

Still, Hoyer contended that members haven’t been officially asked for their vote because the legislation hasn’t been finalized.

“We haven’t yet, but because we don’t have a product yet. We’re not through finally putting the reconciliation package together and until we do that, it’s really unrealistic to ask a Member what you are going to do," he said.

John McCormack, a conservative Weekly Standard writer, says he has no doubt that the pro-life Democrats will stand firm.

"What’s interesting about the emphatic opposition of Stupak, Lipinski, and Oberstar is that they are all liberals who easily won reelection in 2008. That year, Stupak had a 90% liberal rating from Americans for Democratic Action and a 32-point margin of victory; Oberstar had an 80% ADA rating and a 36-point margin of victory; and Lipinski had a 90% ADA rating and a 52-point margin of victory," he explains.

"In other words, their opposition is based on principle, not in fear that they might lose reelection. Their electoral security has left Stupak, Oberstar, and Lipinski free to vote their consciences. How many other pro-life Democrats will join them?" he continues.

Concerned Women for America president Wendy Wright, in a new editorial at Human Events, agrees.

"What the Democratic leadership refuses to accept is that they can’t run the country as hard-left pro-abortionists when they won their majority with conservative pro-life candidates," she says.

She points out that George Stephanopoulos asked Stupak recently if he is "prepared to take responsibility for bringing down this whole bill?"

"Yes, we’re prepared to take responsibility. Let’s face it, I want to see health care. But we’re not going to bypass some principles and beliefs that we feel strongly about," Stupak responded.

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