ObamaCare Backlash May Yield Election, Legislative Victories for Pro-Life Groups
by Michael New
August 12, 2010
LifeNews.com Note: Dr. Michael New is a political science professor at the University of Alabama and holds a Ph.D. from Stanford University. He is a fellow at Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, New Jersey.
It is no secret that the upcoming 2010 midterm elections will in part be a referendum on the health care reform legislation that was passed this spring. However the enactment of Obama care will have some important policy and political implications that will last well beyond 2010. This is especially the case for the pro-life movement in America.
From a policy perspective, the passage of Obama care is clearly a setback
for pro-lifers. However, the damage is not irreversible.
If Republicans make substantial gains in the 2010 midterm elections, the repeal of Obama care may well be a salient issue heading into the 2012 Presidential election. Furthermore, Congressmen Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Dan Lipinski (D-IL) have already sponsored the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act which would prevent federal funding of abortion through Obamacare. Since every year Congress passes the Hyde Amendment, there is a good chance Congress could pass this piece of legislation as well.
Politically, even in defeat, the health care debate demonstrated the growing strength of the pro-life movement.
During the debate over Clintoncare in 1993 and 1994, the most effective opposition came from fiscal conservatives. However, throughout the past year,
the pro-life movement offered the most effective opposition to Obamacare. Because of the interlocking nature of Obamacares many rules and regulations, supporters of health care reform had the unenviable choice of either effectively banning abortion coverage in health insurance plans or using tax dollars to subsidize abortion.
Considering the influence the abortion lobby has over the Democratic party, President Obama was not about to prevent health care plans from covering abortion. As such, he had little choice but to let federal funds subsidize health-insurance plans that cover abortion.
Pro-lifers were able to use the unpopularity of tax funded abortions to generate
significant opposition to Obamacare. Though the pro-life movement was ultimately unsuccessful in defeating Obamacare, it should be noted that, pro-life opposition was the final major obstacle supporters of Obamacare had to overcome. Furthermore, by linking Obamacare to taxpayer funding of abortion, the pro-life movement has given many pro-life candidates a good issue for the 2010 elections.
Overall, the most important long term political implication of the passage of Obamacare is that both beltway pro-life organizations and grassroots
pro-lifers will be considerably more reluctant to support pro-life Democrats in the future.
In recent years, pro-lifers made some good faith efforts to reach out to Democrats. However, the fact that every member of the Stupak coalition — with the exception of Dan Lipinski (D-IL) — voted in favor of Obamacare demonstrated that many self described pro-life Democrats placed greater emphasis on party loyalty rather than pro-life principles.
Additionally, the fact that Democrats for Life is virtually alone among right to life groups in their support for the Stupak compromise has greatly damaged their reputation in pro-life circles. Since Democrats for Life had been willing to publicly criticize Democrats who pursued policies that undermined the sanctity of human life, they once enjoyed credibility that other groups, such as Catholics United and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good lacked.
However, their support for Congressman Stupak and their vocal opposition to pro-life groups who opposed Obamacare has cost them much of this credibility. Overall, Democrats for Life has a considerable amount of work to do if they wish to rehabilitate their reputation within the pro-life community.
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