From National Review:
Sitting in an airport, on his way home to Michigan, Rep. Bart Stupak, a pro-life Democrat, is chagrined. “They’re ignoring me,” he says, in a phone interview with National Review Online. “That’s their strategy now. The House Democratic leaders think they have the votes to pass the Senate’s health-care bill without us. At this point, there is no doubt that they’ve been able to peel off one or two of my twelve. And even if they don’t have the votes, it’s been made clear to us that they won’t insert our language on the abortion issue.”
According to Stupak, that group of twelve pro-life House Democrats — the “Stupak dozen” — has privately agreed for months to vote ‘no’ on the Senate’s health-care bill if federal funding for abortion is included in the final legislative language. Now, in the debate’s final hours, Stupak says the other eleven are coming under “enormous” political pressure from both the White House and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.). “I am a definite ‘no’ vote,” he says. “I didn’t cave. The others are having both of their arms twisted, and we’re all getting pounded by our traditional Democratic supporters, like unions.”
Stupak notes that his negotiations with House Democratic leaders in recent days have been revealing. “I really believe that the Democratic leadership is simply unwilling to change its stance,” he says. “Their position says that women, especially those without means available, should have their abortions covered.” The arguments they have made to him in recent deliberations, he adds, “are a pretty sad commentary on the state of the Democratic party.”
What are Democratic leaders saying? “If you pass the Stupak amendment, more children will be born, and therefore it will cost us millions more. That’s one of the arguments I’ve been hearing,” Stupak says.
If Obamacare passes, Stupak says, it could signal the end of any meaningful role for pro-life Democrats within their own party. “It would be very, very hard for someone who is a right-to-life Democrat to run for office,” he says. “I won’t leave the party. I’m more comfortable here and still believe in a role within it for the right-to-life cause, but this bill will make being a pro-life Democrat much more difficult. They don’t even want to debate this issue. We’ll probably have to wait until the Republicans take back the majority to fix this.”
“Throughout this debate, even when the House leaders have acknowledged us, it’s always been in a backhanded way,” he laments.
And the politics of the issue are pretty rough. “This has really reached an unhealthy stage,” Stupak says. “People are threatening ethics complaints on me. On the left, they’re really stepping it up. Every day, from Rachel Maddow to the Daily Kos, it keeps coming. Does it bother me? Sure. Does it change my position? No.”
From TALKING POINTS MEMO:
TPM’s Brian Beutler reports from Capitol Hill that House Democrats are moving forward on health care with or without prolife Rep. Bart Stupak and the dozen lawmakers he might get to attempt to block the bill.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters this morning that Democrats “have not discussed a third way” and that when he spoke with Stupak (D-MI) about the abortion provisions he wants in the measure, “I made it clear that I wasn’t negotiating.”
“We don’t want to go without their votes, but we do want to forge ahead, and as you know Mr. Stupak has made it very very clear that he’s very strongly in favor of achieving health care in this Congress. And I think that a lot of his colleagues feel the same way,” Hoyer said.
The majority leader said that as Congress nears a final vote it’s clear the abortion provisions Stupak wants inserted into the health care legislation can’t be addressed in the budget reconciliation bill that House Democrats need to pass.
Last night on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow show, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she’s confident Stupak won’t try to sink the bill.
“And those who want the bill to fail hijack the good intentions of others who have concerns about the federal funding of abortion,” she said.