Today, The Weekly Standard’s John McCormack hit the nail on the head in a response to conservatives who argue that the Stupak-Pitts amendment is to blame for the passage of the entire health care bill.
For those of us outside the beltway, excluded from the closed-door strategy meetings, the story went a little something like this:
In order to pass health care reform, Speaker Pelosi needed the support of at least a few pro-life Democrats to secure passage of the bill. In order to gain this support, Speaker Pelosi took a calculated hit and allowed a yes or no vote on the pro-life Stupak-Pitts amendment. With the amendment passed, House leadership was confident that they would gain enough votes from the pro-life Democrats to secure successful passage of the entire bill—and that’s exactly what happened.
As Saturday night turned into Sunday morning, many conservatives were quick to blame the pro-life movement. Without the Stupak-Pitts amendment they argued, pro-life democrats would not have given their support to the overall bill; health care reform would not have moved on to the next step. The insistence of pro-life members and activists gave Speaker Pelosi the exact thing she needed to ensure that health care legislation would pass.
However, this was not the case. To begin, pro-life democrats took a brave step outside their party’s mold to support an amendment of life, and their bravery was owed due respect by their pro-life counterparts on the other side of the aisle. If conservatives had worked to prevent the Stupak-Pitts amendment from passing, it would have been a slap in the face to the pro-life representatives and activists that spent months fighting back the assault on the Hyde amendment, the insult that was the Capps “compromise” amendment, and finally, the ineffective Ellsworth amendment. To round it off, it is very likely that the health care bill would have passed even if the essential Stupak amendment had not been victorious.
Saturday’s vote on the Stupak amendment represents a victory for the pro-life movement—not only by demonstrating the effectiveness of our grassroots activists, but in the validation experienced by longtime pro-life members of Congress.
NRO’s Ramesh Ponnuru, pointed out that with the Stupak victory, “we have really pushed far into the future any chance that [the pro-abortion democrats] are going to make a run at the Hyde amendment,” and Fr. Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition called the Stupak vote “a nail in the eventual coffin of Roe v. Wade.”
Make no mistake, the passage of the Stupak amendment was an enormous upset to abortion advocates in the health care debate. The pro-life movement knows it is on the right track when pro-abortion titans such as Planned Parenthood and Center for Reproductive Rights are fuming.
The passage of the Stupak amendment was, as SBA President Marjorie Dannenfelser put it, “a principled and politically sound decision.” Minority Leader Boehner and Reps. Cantor and Pence said in a statement that “To be clear, the Stupak-Pitts Amendment’s passage is the right thing to do. We believe you just don’t play politics with life.”
Now it’s time for pro-lifers to redouble our efforts to press for the inclusion of similar language in the Senate bill!