The Suzy B Blog

Jul 2, 2010
Weekly Standard: Pro-life Democrats an Endangered Species

Executive Order Signing

In this week's issue of The Weekly Standard, John McCormack discusses the future of pro-life Democrats. McCormack, who has been covering the role of pro-life Democrats (and pro-life Republicans) in the health care debate since it first began, provides great insight into the history of these elusive politicians, and what lies ahead.

"Three months after his career-defining health care vote, Michigan Democratic representative Bart Stupak still bristles at questions surrounding the deal he cut with President Obama on abortion. “The executive order says public funds cannot be used for abortion,” says Stupak, and those who say otherwise are “dishonest.”

Stupak may not be dishonest, but he’s certainly mistaken about the executive order that secured his vote, and the votes of other self-proclaimed pro-life Democrats, for Obamacare. Doesn’t the executive order simply affirm the Senate bill’s main abortion-funding provision that Ben Nelson signed off on—a provision that Stupak called “unacceptable” back in December? “I didn’t like the Nelson language on December 24, and up through that time,” Stupak replies. “Then there were changes in it, in the final bill. They cleaned it up quite a bit. There were changes made.” In fact, the abortion language passed by the Senate on December 24 is identical to the language signed into law by President Obama on March 23.

“I didn’t think we were going to get into the nitty gritty,” Stupak says after I ask him about the section of the executive order that says subsidized plans may cover elective abortions so long as federal subsidies are “segregated” from private dollars—the main funding mechanism of abortion in the bill and something Stupak had long rejected as a meaningless bookkeeping scheme. “I’m happy to call back if you want to get into the nitty gritty,” he says, “but in all honesty I don’t have [the executive order] sitting here in front of me.” Stupak said that on June 15. He never called back.

In Stupak’s defense, he may not have been prepared to discuss the executive order because the topic of the interview was the future of pro-life Democrats. But it’s hard to talk about the future of pro-life Democrats without discussing what happened in March. It was a defining moment that revealed there may not be a future for pro-life Democrats.

The health care vote confirmed that when a pro-life Democrat’s principles collide with his loyalty to the broader Democratic agenda, it’s the pro-life principles that give way. This pattern goes back all the way to Roe v. Wade. It happened long ago with the likes of Jesse Jackson and Richard Gephardt and Al Gore. Ultra-liberal Dennis Kucinich of Ohio—long a pro-lifer—tossed that position overboard the instant he launched his vanity presidential campaign in 2004. Harry Reid of Nevada sold out what remained of his pro-life principles in exchange for becoming the Senate Democratic leader in 2005. The Senate’s health care vote in December claimed the credibility of the two remaining pro-life Democrats in that chamber: Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, who announced he’d rather pass a national health care bill that funds abortions than pass no bill at all, and Ben Nelson of Nebraska, who held out for a bit of extra federal cash for Nebraska known as the Cornhusker Kickback.

But Stupak was supposed to be different. He held out in spite of intense pressure from party leadership and activists for months. “I’ve had so many death threats, I don’t know if most of them were for or against health care, before or after [the vote],” he says. As Stupak told The Weekly Standard two weeks before the health care vote in March: “If I didn’t” cave in before, “why would I do it now after all the crap I’ve been through?”

Good question. We still don’t fully know the answer. But the reason doesn’t matter to pro-life groups. The lesson they took away from the health care vote is that there needs to be a day of reckoning for the Stupak Democrats, who cannot claim to be pro-life after voting for taxpayer-funding of abortion. So far, the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List has had some success targeting these members through its $1 million Votes Have Consequences campaign.

Read the rest here.

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Jun 30, 2010
There Is Something About Kagan

The questioning period in the Elena Kagan confirmation hearings began yesterday, and some disturbing revelations concerning Kagan’s adamant pro-abortion ideology are already rising to the surface. Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee (and even some Democrats) have already expressed their concerns about Kagan’s utter lack of judicial experience and her apparent penchant for judicial activism. The leading Republican on the Committee, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, unhesitatingly expressed his reservations in Monday’s opening statements:

    “Kagan has never tried a case before a jury. She argued her first appellate case just nine months ago. She has barely practiced law, and not with the intensity and duration from which real understanding occurs.”

On the matter of judicial activism, Sessions added the following:

    “[T]hroughout her career, Ms. Kagan has associated herself with well-known activist judges. These judges don’t deny activism; they advocate it. And they openly oppose the idea of a judge as a neutral umpire.”

Orrin Hatch, a Republican and Senior Senator from Utah, quipped, “Will the Constitution control her, or will she control the Constitution?”

Indeed, Kagan’s admiration of her former boss, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, is not unknown. At the time, she proved to be particularly fond of his “living Constitution” approach to judicial theory, saying: “For in Justice Marshall’s view, … [i]t was the role of the courts, in interpreting the Constitution, to protect the people who went unprotected by every other organ of government – to safeguard the interests of people who had no other champion. The Court existed primarily to fulfill this mission.” Unfortunately, history has shown us that this understanding of legal theory does not embrace the least protected of us all – the unborn.

The delicate nuances of abortion jurisprudence highlight the problems with Kagan’s deficiencies. Kagan has spent the bulk of her career taking strongly opinionated positions on several matters of law and policy in the manner of an ideologue – a clear contrast to the neutrality expected of those on the bench. During her time as an advisor to the Clinton Administration, she was instrumental in providing political cover for Pres. Clinton after he vetoed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 1997. While Kagan’s recommendation appeared to suggest a compromise, the proposed “Daschle ban” was in reality a phony policy meant to be used as a political red herring. It worked.

While recalling that controversial ploy, Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee, had this to say:

    “[The Daschle ban] had only one purpose, which was to provide political cover for pro-abortion senators who might otherwise feel compelled to vote to override President Clinton’s veto of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. It was not a real ban, but a completely hollow political construct – all exception, no ban.

    “The Daschle ploy served its political purpose, which was to provide enough of a smokescreen to prevent the Senate from overriding Clinton’s veto.”

In yesterday’s questioning period, pro-abortion Senator Dianne Feinstein asked Kagan a series of questions concerning Roe v. Wade. Kagan asserted her belief that both Roe and the accompanying case, Doe v. Bolton, require that state regulations on abortion make exceptions for the health of the mother. Of course, Roe and Doe leave the matter of “maternal health” open to very wide interpretations, even to the point where a physician could claim that a mother would suffer from mental stigma if she were to give birth. “Maternal health” has become the catch-all excuse to legitimize abortion on demand.

While serving in the White House, Kagan sought to expand the reach of the “maternal health” exception. A media alert sent today by Americans United for Life reveals that Kagan “argued that a woman should have access to a partial-birth abortion if her doctor felt it was the best procedure for her health – regardless of whether she actually ‘needed’ an abortion at all.” Kagan’s ambitious and impassioned view on abortion policy combined with her proclivity for judicial activism provide for a gloomy indication of what may soon appear on the legal horizon.

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Jun 28, 2010
Adult Stem Cells Reverse Blindness!

adult stem cells
Its a miracle, and a huge win for proponents of adult stem cell use! The AP is reporting that in Italy, dozens of people who had been blinded as a result of chemical burns to their eyes had their sight restored after adult stem cell therapy. From the AP:

"The treatment worked completely in 82 of 107 eyes and partially in 14 others, with benefits lasting up to a decade so far. One man whose eyes were severely damaged more than 60 years ago now has near-normal vision...

"In the study, published online by the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers took a small number of stem cells from a patient's healthy eye, multiplied them in the lab and placed them into the burned eye, where they were able to grow new corneal tissue to replace what had been damaged. Since the stem cells are from their own bodies, the patients do not need to take anti-rejection drugs."

Not only do they not have to worry about anti-rejection drugs, patients who undergo adult stem cell therapies are not troubled by the moral and ethical dilemma of destroying small humans, embryos, for scientific research. Also unlike embryonic stem cell research, treatments with adult stem cells have yielded real results:

"Researchers followed the patients for an average of three years and some as long as a decade. More than three-quarters regained sight after the transplant. An additional 13 percent were considered a partial success. Though their vision improved, they still had some cloudiness in the cornea.

"Patients with superficial damage were able to see within one to two months. Those with more extensive injuries took several months longer.

"'They were incredibly happy. Some said it was a miracle,' said one of the study leaders, Graziella Pellegrini of the University of Modena's Center for Regenerative Medicine in Italy. 'It was not a miracle. It was simply a technique.'

"The study was partly funded by the Italian government."

I'll tell you what the miracle is. Its a miracle that the Italian government funded a study involving only the use of adult stem cells. Here in the U.S., research with adult stem cells is only in the preliminary stages while after only two months in office, President Obama ended the ban on embryonic stem cell research. Since March 2009, there has been little to no success with embryonic cells. Hopefully the American science & research community will take this hint from our Italian friends!

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