Great article. Calls Democrats out for “rhetorical sleight of hand” when it comes to abortion. And stepping back, why are the Democrats so cautious about it anyway? I thought abortion was a winning issue for them.
Reported Politico today:
stupak 3, obama, healthcare, abortion.jpg

The sudden spasm of intense debate over abortion on Capitol Hill this week threatens not only to stall the passage of health care legislation, but also to shatter the delicate cease-fire that has governed the abortion issue during the Obama era.
After months of dodging high-profile confrontations over abortion, Democrats – including President Barack Obama – find themselves faced with a stark set of alternatives: Support a bill that imposes limits on access to abortion or demand one that might, however indirectly, fund the procedure with taxpayer money….

It’s the kind of decision point the White House and Democratic leaders have consistently attempted to avoid. By playing down divisions over abortion and emphasizing shared goals – such as reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in the USmembers of the president’s party have sought to blur the lines of one of the country’s most furious and enduring debates.
“They’re looking for an easy way out. And there is no easy way out when it comes to right or wrong or true or false,” said former Boston Mayor Ray Flynn, an abortion opponent who served as ambassador to the Vatican during the Clinton administration. “On some of these issues, there’s just no compromise.
The House health care bill wasn’t supposed to become a referendum on abortion rights. But Rep. Bart Stupak, a Democrat from MI, reshaped the legislative landscape when he offered an amendment banning the sale of insurance policies covering abortion through the proposed national health insurance exchange – or to women who receive health care subsidies from the federal government.
Stupak’s proposal, which would also bar any public health insurance plan from covering abortion procedures, passed the House on Saturday over objections from a majority of Democratic lawmakers, who voted against the amendment.
Supporters of abortion rights were outraged – especially House Democratic women, many of whom view Stupak’s legislation as a betrayal of a key Democratic commitment….
As the debate over health care moves to the Senate, Democrats find themselves in the unaccustomed position of taking clear sides on an issue they’ve often dealt with through avoidance and rhetorical sleight of hand.
On this hottest of hot-button social issues, few Democrats have positioned themselves as cautiously as Obama…..
Given the sensitivity of the abortion debate, however, the Democrats’ balancing act was always precarious….
But as the governing party heads for a painful set of decisions, conservatives, for their part, are looking forward to the Democrats’ moment of choosing.
“You can’t have it both ways. If you’re subsidizing private insurance policies, then you are either paying for it with tax dollars or you’re not,” said Ralph Reed, the former executive director of the Christian Coalition, adding that abortion “looks increasingly like it is a major cleavage running through the Democratic Party and that has potentially huge implications, not only for health care but for the 2010 election.”

[HT: Suzie A.; photo via Politico]

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