I admit it. I made a mistake in sympathizing with and supporting Rep. Bart Stupak and the other so-called “pro-life” Democrats in the House who had reservations about the abortion funding language in the ObamaCare bill. Never again:
Amid the recriminations it’s easy to overlook what Mr. Stupak had cobbled together. His amendment restricting federal funding for abortions, passed in November, marked the only bipartisan vote in this whole health-care mess. For the first time since Roe v. Wade, pro-life Democrats had seized the legislative initiative in the teeth of their leadership’s opposition—and brought the party of abortion to heel.
Now Mr. Stupak has thrown it away. By caving at the last hour, he discredited all who stood with him. (What does it say about Ohio’s Marcy Kaptur and Pennsylvania’s Chris Carney that they had already agreed to vote yes even before the fig leaf of the executive order had come through?) In addition to undermining an encouraging partnership with pro-lifers across the congressional aisle, Mr. Stupak signaled that, in the end, you can’t count on pro-life Democrats.
“The peer pressure to be part of the team can be overwhelming,” says Chris Smith, a pro-life GOP congressman from New Jersey. “But sometimes it’s absolutely necessary, regardless of the cost, to bend into the wind, unmovable, committed to what your heart, mind and conscience know to be right.”
“For so long, Bart did that. Then he was like a runner who stopped a hundred feet before the finish line. It’s a sad day for the unborn, a sad day for their mothers, and a serious setback for the culture of life.”
Kristen Day of Democrats for Life doesn’t see it that way. Her official statement “applauds” the executive order. In a phone conversation, she tells me that “at this point in time, the pro-life voice in the Democratic Party is the strongest I’ve ever seen it.” She goes on to suggest that now is a “pivotal moment”—because if the pro-life movement punishes Mr. Stupak and Co. at the polls, the “pro-life voice in the Democratic Party will be diluted.”
She’s right about that last bit: If the Stupak crew goes down, they will probably be replaced by pro-life Republicans or pro-choice Democrats. Either way, it means fewer pro-life Democrats. On the other hand, many who cheered Mr. Stupak will say the “pivotal moment” came Sunday—and he chose liberalism over life.
Even more troubling for Ms. Day is that few accept the idea that the executive order really adds anything. In fact, on this point National Right to Life, the Catholic bishops and the Susan B. Anthony List are largely on the same page as Planned Parenthood. As are the pro-life Republican leader Mr. Smith and the pro-choice Democrat Diana DeGette of Colorado.
Planned Parenthood calls it a “symbolic gesture,” and says “it is critically important to note that it does not include the Stupak abortion ban.” Rep. DeGette, who screamed so loudly when the Stupak amendment passed, said she had no problem with the executive order because “it doesn’t change anything.” She’s right, because an executive order cannot change the law.
Someone at a political forum I post at took to calling Stupak “Dupak” since he had been duped into going along with Obama’s decision on an Executive Order regarding federal funding for abortion. But was he “duped?” Stupak’s a lawyer. Surely he should know that an EO cannot override Congressional legislation?
More and more, I believe this meaningless EO was nothing more than political cover for Stupak (and the 12 other Dems who stood alongside him) who, in reality, planned on voting for ObamaCare all along. But with his feigned “opposition” and now the EO he can go home to his constituents looking like he tried his hardest to make sure ObamaCare didn’t fund abortions. And when his constituents realize (if they haven’t already) that the EO won’t override Congressional legislation, Dupak will claim ignorance. Will they fall for it? Let’s hope not.
On that basis, I simply cannot and will not feel sorry for the heat he’s taking this week in light of his flip flop. I especially cannot feel sorry for him considering the way he celebrated after the big vote on Sunday.
And speaking of flip-flops, Jim Geraghty notes another one from President Obama on the issue of forcing people to buy health insurance. I’m beginning to wonder if he meant anything he said prior to becoming elected President? Outside of emphatically declaring that he would “fundamentally transforming” this country, which has – sadly – proven to be all too true.
Update 1 – 7:36 PM: Surprise surprise. Fox News’ Major Garrett reports that Obama did not sign the much-heralded by Stupak abortion EO today (hat tip):
President Obama signed the Senate health care bill into law Tuesday. He did not sign the executive order on abortion negotiated with Michigan Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak in an 11th-hour arrangement that may well have saved the entire health care reform effort.
A White House official told Fox, Obama will not sign the Executive Order Tuesday and has set no specific date to do so. Stupak predicted Obama would sign the order later this week. The White House said only that Obama would sign the order “soon.”
In two celebratory speeches Tuesday – one at the bill’s signing, the other at the Interior Department with health care advocates – Obama said nothing about the abortion issue or the executive order.
Stupak, meanwhile, is under fire for accepting the order as his price for supporting the health care overhaul legislation, which passed on a vote of 219-212.
Stupak released a statement today defending the as-yet-unsigned executive order, placing it on a list of other significant orders that included Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation and Harry Truman’s 1948 order desegregating the U.S. armed forces.
“Throughout history, Executive Orders have been an important means of implementing public policy,” Stupak said in a statement. “The most famous Executive Order was the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Lincoln in 1863.”
Sigh. Stuck.On.Stupid, people. Stuck on it.
Update 2 – 7:52 PM: Per CBS’ Mark Knoller, Obama will be signing the abortion EO tomorrow. Guess what else:
Members of Congress including Bart Stupak, D-MI, are invited to the signing. But there’ll be no press coverage. Cuda guessed.
Yeah, no surprise there. Because unlike with ObamaCare, there’s nothing to “celebrate” with the signing of an EO that is supposed to keep funding restrictions on abortions in place, even if it is a meaningless gesture.