By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Pro-life leaders are urging the public not to react to a statement made by congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) saying if his amendment to ban abortion fails to be included in the House’s health care reform bill, he will probably vote for it anyway.
According to a blog by pro-life activist Jill Stanek, Rep. Stupak made the comments during an October 24 town hall meeting in Cheboygan, MI.
In the town hall video, which appears on YouTube, Rep. Stupak says: “I offered an amendment that says no public funding for abortion that’s been the law of the land for many many decades and we lose that vote. Let’s say we lose that vote…. Would I vote against health care? If I had a chance to vote my conscience I probably would not. I probably would still vote for the health care bill at the end of the day.”
While he was booed by members of the audience during the townhall, Ms. Stanek warns pro-lifers not to attack the congressman because he’s under immense pressure already from powerful House leadership.
“I’m calling for calm,” Ms. Stanek said.
She offered advice from Kristen Day, president of Democrats for Life, who explained in an e-mail: “If Stupak gets a vote, his Amendment would most likely pass, which is why the leadership is not going to allow it. This is not the time to start attacking Stupak. He held a briefing today with the USCCB about abortion funding in health care. He has now 43 Democrats who said they would oppose the rule.”
The “rule” is a procedural tactic Rep. Stupak plans to take to stall the bill and prevent it from coming to the floor unless Speaker Nancy Pelosi allows an up or down vote on an amendment that will ban abortion funding from health care reform.
While many were shocked when he said he would probably vote for the bill anyway, Congressional insiders say Rep. Stupak is just trying to appear reasonable to House leadership.
As one unnamed source inside Congress explained: “ . . . (I)n reality Stupak believes he has the votes either of two ways to scrub abortion in healthcare: 1) by stopping the bill if his amendment isn’t given an up-or-down vote; and 2) by passing the amendment if members are given the chance to vote.”
In other words, Stupak doesn’t believe it will get to the point of having to vote for a healthcare bill with abortion in it if members are allowed to vote on his amendment, because the amendment is certain to pass.
“Whatever the case may be, pro-life groups need to be putting their efforts into growing support for the Stupak amendment,”the source said. “Attacks on the one guy who has a shot at building a pro-life coalition of the necessary 40 Democrats won’t accomplish anything.”
To view Rep. Stupak’s comments, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URr68joWr1E
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