Archive for the ‘pro-life democrats’ Category

And So it Begins: Secular Media Picks Up on the Pro-Life Democrat Movement

March 24, 2010

Finally, the secular media is starting to take notice:

he Democrat who helped House leaders secure the last few votes needed to pass landmark health care legislation might not have been treated so solicitously at the party’s convention the year he was elected to Congress.

In 1992, when Bart Stupak was running for his first term in Michigan’s 1st Congressional District, Pennsylvania Gov. Robert Casey Sr. was denied a speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention in New York. Casey was the namesake for a pivotal U.S. Supreme Court case that upheld a state’s right to restrict abortions. He accused the Clinton-Gore campaign of excluding him because of his staunchly anti-abortion views.

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Robert Casey Sr. was denied a speaking slot at the 1992 Democratic National Convention in New York. He said he was excluded because of his anti-abortion views.

Two years later, Democrats lost control of the House after 40 years in power.

On Sunday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, an abortion-rights supporter, signed a last-minute deal with Stupak and other anti-abortion-rights Democrats to push the bill past the goal line. It came after pro-choice President Barack Obama agreed to issue an executive order declaring that restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortion will remain unchanged.

Public opinion among Democrats remains strongly in favor of abortion rights. Yet a solid, and consistent, third of self-described Democrats say they oppose abortion on demand.

A third!  Clearly, the times they-are-a-changin’:

There was no clearer signal of changing times than the 2008 Democratic Convention in Denver, where Casey’s son, Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey Jr., was given a prominent speaking slot. He acknowledged disagreeing with Obama on abortion but lauded the presidential candidate’s “respect” for those who opposed abortion on moral grounds.

Casey and Nebraska’s Ben Nelson, another anti-abortion Democrat, helped draft the abortion language in the Senate bill. Stupak dismissed that as weaker than his own “Stupak amendment” and tried to rework the Senate bill to fit the House version.

That angered abortion-rights Democrats, prompting threats to withhold their votes if Stupak got his way.

“We’re not happy with the Nelson language. We’re not happy that this president has done an executive order,” Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a leader of the abortion-rights caucus, told AOL News. “But we understand what it was going to take in order to pass this bill.”

But it wasn’t just the extremists on the left that weren’t happy with the pro-life dems:

Texas Republican Rep. Randy Neugebauer called out “baby killer” on the House floor during Stupak’s speech. Neugebauer later apologized, but anti-abortion groups were livid. One rescinded an award to Stupak. Others vowed to punish him and his allies in November as part of a wider effort to repeal the whole health plan.

“He made a very deliberate decision to sell out the pro-life movement,” said Charmaine Yoest of Americans United for Life. “It was a betrayal of historic proportions.”

Angering both the left and the right may be a good thing for Democrats.



Letter from the US Bishops on Health Care Reform

December 16, 2009

The US Catholic Bishops, major providers of health care in the United Sates, (and supporters of the ‘liberal’ bill proposals in Congress) have sent a letter to the Senate showing the hypocrisy of voting against amendments like Stupak/Nelson (sorry this is a bit long, but worth it):

The central argument against the Nelson amendment, voiced during floor debate by many
Senators, was that this amendment goes too far by barring federal subsidies to entire
health plans that include abortion coverage. The three-decades-long precedent of the
Hyde amendment and similar provisions governing all other federal health programs, it
was claimed, is this: Federal funds may not be used “directly” for an elective abortion,
but non-Federal funds such as private premium dollars may be used in the same health
plan for such abortions.1 The underlying health care reform bill was said to respect this
tradition by “segregating” funds with plans to allow “private” funding of abortion. It was
chiefly on the basis of this argument that the Nelson amendment was tabled

However, yesterday’s overwhelming vote to approve the Consolidated Appropriations
Act creates a new situation. In that vote, almost all Democrats, including almost
every Senator who claimed the Nelson amendment’s policy goes too far, voted in
favor of that exact policy. For these Senators voted to retain the actual current
language of the Hyde amendment, and of the parallel provision governing abortion in the
Federal Employees Health Benefits Program – and that language clearly requires a policy
in all other federal health programs that is identical to that of the Nelson amendment.
Here is the language of the Nelson amendment that Senators claimed was new and

1 No abortion provision at issue forbids funding abortions (or plans including abortion) when the mother’s life is endangered or in cases of rape or incest; these exceptions are not at issue and will not be included in quotes from the provisions. Abortions not covered by these exceptions are here called “elective” abortions.
2 No funds authorized or appropriated by this Act (or an amendment made by this Act) may be used to pay for any abortion or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion.

Here is the Hyde amendment, governing all current programs funded by the Labor/HHS
appropriations bill, which the Senate just voted to reaffirm:

None of the funds appropriated in this Act, and none of the funds in any trust
fund to which funds are appropriated in this Act, shall be expended for any
abortion…. None of the funds appropriated in this Act, and none of the funds in
any trust fund to which funds are appropriated in this Act, shall be expended for
health benefits coverage that includes coverage of abortion…. The term “health
benefits coverage” means the package of services covered by a managed care
provider or organization pursuant to a contract or other arrangement.
(H.R. 3288 as approved by the Senate on December 13, Division D, sec. 508;
emphasis added)

The Hyde amendment states further that it does not prevent use of state, local or private
funds for abortions, as long as these are separate from the state matching funds that
combine with federal funds to purchase a benefits package. In other words, not only
federal funds, but other funds used to purchase the same package, may not pay for
elective abortions.

Here is the parallel provision governing the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program,
which the Senate also approved yesterday:

No funds appropriated by this Act shall be available to pay for an abortion, or
the administrative expenses in connection with any health plan under the
Federal employees health benefits program which provides any benefits or
coverage for abortions.
(H.R. 3288 as approved by the Senate on December 13, Division C, sec. 613;
emphasis added)

Neither of these longstanding provisions says anything about “segregating” private and
federal funds within a health plan or benefits package. Attempts to achieve such
segregation are irrelevant to current policy, which bars federal funds from being used for
any part of a package that covers elective abortions.

Literally the only substantive difference between these noncontroversial and widely
supported provisions and the Nelson amendment is that the latter explains at length that
(a) it does not prevent purchasers who do not receive federal subsidies from buying a
health plan including elective abortions, even on the Exchange created by the health care
reform bill, and (b) it does not prevent purchasers receiving federal subsidies from buying
separate supplemental abortion coverage with their own funds.

What this means substantively is that the democratic opposition to Stupak/Nelson-like amendments is a disingenuous political ploy.  They really don’t have principled opposition, but rather this is the kind of public face they have to put forward to keep NARAL and Planned Parenthood happy.  While frustrating, the fact that they really ultimately don’t care about the principle might make a ‘manager’s amendment’ which brought back this kind of language that much more likely to get through.  Again, whether or not this happens–especially if Senators Nelson and Casey steel their spines and insist on it–will be a major turning point in the self-definition of the democratic party.

And it might be the basis of the only remaining problematic opposition to the bill as both the public option and medicare buy-in appear to be dead.  More drama to  come.

A Lack of Will from Senator Casey?

December 10, 2009

While it is true that (as mentioned below) there could be a manager’s amendment snuck in at the last minute with Stupak-like language, and this is the reason for their equivocation about pro-life language in the Senate Health Care Reform Bill, I begin to worry more and more that this is simply a lack of will on the part of Senators Nelson and especially Casey.  Consider this statement from Senator Casey:

Yet in the debate over health-care reform, Casey’s pro-life voice has been muted. He has done nothing more for the unborn than do as he did yesterday in voting for the Nelson anti-abortion amendment. He has not said he will hold up the legislation if it contains indirect funding of abortion. As he said recently, “I just think that there’s going to be enough momentum to get a bill passed that one issue – even a very important issue – will not prevent passage.”

Momentum?  Senator, if you have the will to filibuster this bill you (all by yourself) will force the dems to put in Stupak like language….much like Lieberman, all by himself, forced out the public option with a filibuster threat.   Letting health care reform fail for reasons  that will be painted in the midterm elections as selling out to pro-abortion rights extremism will be political suicide.  Especially for a country that now describes itself as pro-life (with the arrow continuing to point up) and that has the exploding magenta phenomenon of the ‘pro-life democrat’ (over a quarter of the Democratic caucus voted for Stupak).  Senators Casey and Nelson must act like their colleagues in the House; they must steel their spines in the confidence of this growing movement and the seize a moment to pass health care reform in a way that protects all  vulnerable members of the human family.  Those ‘liberals’ who default into a mantra of choice and privacy (which ignores and therefore sacrifices the vulnerable to the interests of the powerful) are losing ground and they are losing the public debate.  Now is no time for weak knees in the face of ‘momentum’.  Now is the time for confidence.  You hold all the cards.

Contact Senators Casey (PA) and Nelson (NE) and tell them to keep the pressure on.  And tell others (especially their constituents)  to do the same.