I got the idea for this post's title from a piece at the New American, which hitchhiked off an interesting New York Times article yesterday. Before I get to that, a snip from the NA piece:
In the end, will he be Bart Stupak? Or will he be Ben Nelson?
Nelson is the Democratic Senator from NE who started holding out for restrictions on abortion coverage, but wound up selling out for more pork for his state....
So while the bill passed by the Senate on Christmas Eve, with Nelson's support, contained no restriction on abortion coverage, it did include increased largesse for Nelson's NE. Other Senators, including Joe Lieberman (I-CT) cut similar deals. But at least Lieberman made no pretense of holding out for the sanctity of human life.
Stupak appears to be one of a different breed of legislative cat. He may be part of a vanishing cast of critters not on the EPA's list of endangered species. Bart Stupak may stand to the end on principle, even if it means healthcare reform is stillborn again in Congress.
And here are excerpts from the New York Times article, which is a good read in its entirety....
Mr. Stupak insists that the final bill include his terms, which he says merely reflect current law. If he prevails, he will have won an audacious, counterintuitive victory, forcing a Democratic-controlled Congress to pass a measure that will be hailed as an anti-abortion triumph. If party members do not accept his terms - and many vow they will not - Mr. Stupak is prepared to block passage of the health care overhaul.
"It's not the end of the world if it goes down," he said over dinner.He did not sound downbeat about the prospect of being blamed for blocking the long-sought goal of President Obama and a chain of presidents and legislators before him. "Then you get the message," he continued. "Fix the abortion language and bring the bill back."...
Mr. Stupak says his stand is a straightforward matter of Roman Catholic faith, but it also seems like the result of a long, slow burn. As dinner progressed, the congressman described years of feeling ignored, slighted or marginalized by his party for his anti-abortion views.
"We're members without a party," he said. "Democrats are mad at you, and Republicans don't trust you."...
His father attended seminary before marrying and later sent his 10 children to Catholic school until tuition money ran out....
In the primary, he beat a candidate who supported abortion rights. But when he tried to hire Democratic political consultants for the general election, they refused - with expletives, he says - to work for a candidate with his views.
Mr. Stupak won anyway, and his freshman year in Washington, he requested but did not receive a seat on the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee. "I had 1 or 2 members tell me I'd never get on because I'm right-to-life," he said....
When Republicans ruled Washington, his fellow Democrats had to listen to anti-abortion views, he said. But with Democratic victories, abortion rights supporters felt their time had come....
But Democratic control of the House carries a paradox: because the party expanded by winning what had been Republican districts, it has more members who oppose federal financing for abortions and restrictions on guns. Mr. Stupak's measure on abortion passed the House with the support of 64 Democrats.
"Before, when we talked about pro-life Democrats, you'd get a snicker and a laugh," he said. "We were just always overlooked. We're not overlooked anymore."
Now the disagreement over abortion financing has become a game of chicken, with Mr. Stupak saying he and 10 or 11 others, whom he would not name, will vote against a final bill that does not meet his standards, and some backers of abortion rights threatening to do the same in what is expected to be a close vote.
Last fall, Mr. Stupak told constituents that even if his amendment failed, he would still vote yes on the overall health care legislation -- he merely wanted to vote his conscience first. Now he says that statement applied only to the bill's early version.
"You fight for a principle you've believed in your whole life, then you fold up the tent?" he said....
Mr. Stupak says he urged the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to toughen its stance on the legislation; representatives from the conference and the National Right to Life Committee did not return calls....
[JLS note: What does that mean?]
He is trying to pass the health care overhaul, he insists, not sabotage it, and predicts that the legislation will ultimately collapse for reasons apart from abortion. But he will be blamed anyway, he is sure.
"I get the distinct impression that I'm the last guy the president wants to see," he said.
This would mean the pro-aborts have been wrong all along (lol, as if that was ever in doubt) when they said "abortion is a non-issue".Posted by: truthseeker at January 7, 2010 12:46 PM
Mr. Stupak, you said, "Before, when we talked about pro-life Democrats, you'd get a snicker and a laugh."
Just don't talk about pro-life Democrat senators, okay? I hope you are what you say you are.Posted by: Jon at January 7, 2010 12:46 PM
If he is a man of principle and integrity, then he will stand his ground and insist on the Stupak language, come what may. It sounds like he is a man of principle and integrity, a man of strength and conviction. Let's pray for him, and for the others, as well, who (whom?) he has not named. May the Lord give them grace and guide their hearts and minds.Posted by: Valerie at January 7, 2010 12:57 PM
I see a Bret Farve jersey on his wall. I pray that is not his role model....a benedict arnoldPosted by: Maria at January 7, 2010 1:08 PM
National Right to Life will not return his calls!!!!Unbelievable!!!Posted by: Maria at January 7, 2010 1:12 PM
The New American is a great magazine. I grew up on it. Everyone should be required to read it before they are allowed to vote. We wouldn't be in the debt we're in now if people weren't in the dark while voting.Posted by: Sydney M at January 7, 2010 1:23 PM
Just called his office and told one of his staffers how proud I am, as a Michigander, of his Pro-Life stance. Even though I'm not in his District, I told him I was claiming him anyway.
You nailed it Valerie, we all need to pray for him that God will continue to strengthen him for the Battle.
We need a different reform for Health Care. This is a bad bill.Posted by: Ed at January 7, 2010 1:42 PM
"I get the distinct impression that I'm the last guy the president wants to see," he said."
Oh, but he does want to see you, Mr. Bart, sir. In the hot seat. In the Oval Office. With Rahm standing right next to him. Facing you down.
Giving you that old Chicago Stare.
And a democRAT shall lead them.
Stupak reminds of Steve Martin's character in the jerk.
He is not welcome and he is not wanted in the progressive\liberal\democRAT party.
Doesn't look like the 'big tent' philosophy is working out too good for anyone.Posted by: kbhvac at January 7, 2010 9:31 PM
Posted by: Maria at January 7, 2010 1:12 PM
"National Right to Life will not return his calls!!!!Unbelievable!!!"
Nor the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Not surprised at the lack of support from either entity.
Stupak must support the death penalty and be against socialism.
One of these days Stupak will look in the mirror and see the reflection of a 'conservative'.
yor bro kenPosted by: kbhvac at January 7, 2010 9:36 PM
I am praying this man is the real deal and will stick to his guns. This bill will "transform America" in ways that will hurt this nation and destroy more innocent unborn babies. Continue to pray prolifers.Posted by: Prolifer L at January 7, 2010 10:59 PM
Maria: I took that to mean reps from NRLC did not return the reporter's call(s), not Stupak's calls. I worked closely with NRLC's lobbyists on Nelson and it is not unusual for groups that get inundated with media to not get back to them all or there may be a god reason not to talk to a particular reporter doing a story from a certain angle. While I can't speak for NRLC or UCCB, one imagines they would be more than happy to keep in contact with someone in a key role such as Stupak. I pray he stands firm as he does sound like a man of strong convictions.Posted by: Julie Schmit-Albin at January 9, 2010 10:14 PM