For more than three months, “Bart Stupak will stop this” was a rallying cry for pro-lifers concerned about the Senate’s abortion-funding health bill. However, Stupak caved in exchange for President Obama issuing an executive order that did absolutely “nothing that the Senate bill didn’t do.” In addition, President Obama could repeal his executive order tomorrow.
In essence, these pro-life Democrats sacrificed the cause they held dear to pass a bill that Congressman Stupak said funds abortion — and they got nothing of substance from President Obama in return.
For pro-life activists, the passage of health care reform with its abortion premium and lack of conscience protections for pro-life medical workers should serve as a wake-up call that the Republican Party is the only reliable source of pro-life leadership.
Pro-lifers have tried to play the abortion issue in much the same way the NRA has played the gun issue. The NRA Political Victory Fund famously endorses both Republicans and Democrats who share its position. They can do this quite easily because gun control is, for the most part, a somewhat isolated issue. Abortion is far more complex, as the health care vote revealed.
Democrats had to choose between their pro-life principles and their desire to pass comprehensive health care. They opted for the expansion of big government, and this is just the latest in a series of sell-outs of the pro-life community that go back decades.
Before Stupak, Senators Ben Nelson (D-Ne.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) sold out the pro-life movement by pushing through the Senate health care bill.
Some other disappointments include:
Democrats for Life of America had to dismiss Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH), a former board member elected with endorsements from National Right to Life, after Ryan introduced an abortion reduction bill that included funds for the world’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood.
Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) switched from pro-life to pro-choice before the 2004 presidential election so he could run a credible campaign.
This is hardly an exhaustive list. The number of Democrats who at one time were “pro-life” is staggering, and includes Bill Clinton, Jesse Jackson, Ted Kennedy, Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), and Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ).
Pro-life voters often take the view that a pro-life candidate is always better than a pro-choice candidate. In reality, a moderately pro-choice Republican is probably a better pick for the abortion issue than a pro-life Democrat.
Consider the political gravity of the abortion issue. As a rule, politicians are ambitious people. Getting elected to high office will often lead to seeking an even higher office. Had Clinton run in the 1992 Democratic primaries as a pro-life Democrat, Jerry Brown would have been elected president. Trying to climb the political ladder as a pro-life Democrat is like trying to swim to the surface from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean with a 200-pound lead weight tied around your waist.
With pro-life Democrats, abortion is often only one concern of many and is usually tied to an overall bigger government agenda, as illustrated by Congressman Tim Ryan’s “give Planned Parenthood money to reduce abortion” bill. Since they belong to a political party that takes a stridently pro-choice stance and received 98% of Planned Parenthood’s political contributions in the 2008 cycle, abortion is far down on the list of the pro-life Democrats’ priorities.