Bart Stupak Asked to Stop Attacking Pro-Life Groups on Pro-Abortion Health Care

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 1, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Bart Stupak Asked to Stop Attacking Pro-Life Groups on Pro-Abortion Health Care

by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 1
, 2010

Washington, DC ( — Congressman Bart Stupak caused outrage within the pro-life community when he wrote an opinion column which appeared in the Washington Post on March 27. The article raised eyebrows as Stupak attacked pro-life organizations by saying they are more interested in politics than pro-life.

"The pro-life groups rallied behind me — many without my knowledge or consent — not necessarily because they shared my goals of ensuring protections for life and passing health-care reform but because they viewed me as their best chance to kill health-care legislation," Stupak wrote.

William Saunders, a vice president at Americans United for Life, issued a response to Stupak in an opinion column at the Daily Caller.

He said pro-life advocates were "deeply disappointed" to read Stupak’s comments.

Stupak’s column "contained an attack on the integrity of pro-life organizations, like mine, that fought to keep abortion out of health care reform" and "mischaracterized the bill and the executive order that President Obama signed."

Saying he had no desire to attack Stupak personally and admitting he didn’t know the insider negotiations that led Stupak to vote for the pro-abortion health care bill, Saunders pointed out it would not have passed had Stupak and some of his pro-life Democratic colleagues not traded their votes for the executive order.

"It appears that if Stupak and even three other pro-life democrats had withheld their votes, the bill would not have passed. Would that have been a good outcome? You bet it would … because the bill marked a massive expansion of abortion," Saunders writes.

"Now, Congressman Stupak may disagree with that assessment, and he may honestly believe President Obama’s executive order was the best deal for pro-life Americans. However, for him to suggest, as he did in his op-ed, that pro-life opposition to the deal that he struck is ‘disingenuous at best’ and that the deal he reached is somehow significantly ‘pro-life’ — is simply untrue," Saunders added.

Saunders said Stupak paints a false picture of pro-life opposition to the bill and noted that pro-life groups like Americans United for Life and others always couched their opposition in terms of its provisions funding and promoting abortion.

He said pro-life groups "studiously avoided taking a position on the merits of the bill as such; our opposition, as evidenced by our public statements, was always to the bill’s anti-life provisions. I am certain this is true for many, if not all, other pro-life groups."

Saunders also took Stupak to task for his attacking pro-life groups by saying they supported President George W. Bush’s executive order preventing any new federal funding of embryonic stem cell research and President Barack Obama’s order supposedly stopping abortion funding.

He said Stupak is "comparing apples and oranges."

"While some pro-life groups did, contrary to what Stupak asserts, criticize President Bush’s executive order for not being rigorous enough, it was issued by a pro-life president, while the health care executive order was issued by a pro-abortion president," Saunders writes.

"This distinction matters because for an executive order to have binding legal effect, it must be implemented by regulations and those regulations must be enforced," the AUL vice president noted. "With this executive order, we are left depending upon a pro-abortion president and pro-abortion Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius."

Saunders notes that, even if Obama does actually implement the regulations to enforce the executive order — a court could strike them down because the prohibition they would contain is not mirrored in the actual words of the statute.

"It does not matter whether the language of Obama’s executive order is similar to that of past executive orders, as Stupak asserts, but whether it goes beyond the terms of the statute. There is plenty of reason to believe it does and that a court would strike down regulations based upon it," he said.

Saunders also says the executive order Stupak agreed to is too limited to make a difference.

"The bill extends abortion, contrary to the principles of the Hyde Amendment, in many ways—by extending tax credits to plans that cover abortions, by containing language that can be interpreted by the Obama administration as requiring coverage of—and thereby extending—abortion (eg, through “preventive care”), by severely limiting the reach of its abortion restriction to the use of tax credits and leaving other spending under the bill unrestricted, by tying its restriction regarding tax credits to the continued yearly existence of the Hyde amendment, and by massive expansion of funding to community health centers. Only the latter is addressed by the terms of the executive order," he writes at the Daily Caller.

"The executive order, in short, is a bad deal for pro-life Americans. It flips the Hyde Amendment principles on their head, making the provision of abortion normative as part of health care, no longer cabined outside it" Saunders continued.

He concludes: "The abortion lobby knows this—their disingenuous characterization of the Hyde Amendment as applying only to funding for abortion, not funding for coverage, shows it. It is time Rep. Stupak stopped denying it."

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